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Fate as an emotion: exploring the motives of God (1 Viewer)

Hey everyone, I did this for my 12th grade AP class . . . I know it's a long, but I would really appreciate some C&C. Thanks in advance!




God is more human than we think.


For me to convince you that fate does or does not exist, or that God may or may not be omnipotent, or even that he exists at all, would require from you a great deal of faith. In fact, to do so would require you to believe me before I begin speaking; your belief in what I say would have to be inherent, though not necessarily clearly defined in your conscious. Throughout my studies I have learned that believing in God is an intrinsic trait; one cannot learn to love God, or convince oneself that fate exists, or that one should have faith. That is not to say that every man who believes in divine power is born with a pious mind, but suffice it to say no human faculty is capable of providing faith. Faith must be imposed by God, and we can either choose to accept it wholly or to deny it.

When dealing with faith, the idea of fate inevitably surfaces. There are essentially two views concerning fate: those who believe that humans can exercise free will, and those who believe that we cannot. Those who believe humans do not have free will hold unbendable tenets of our existence—that God predetermines all of our actions, and that we can exercise no influence on the way of things. But this leaves little room for error. For the sake of arguing the matters of fate, suppose that God does indeed exist. And, if he does exist, then it would follow that he is omnipotent because he is the creator of all things. Though this may be true, to suggest that all of our actions are in the hands of God presuming a great deal, even considering his supposed powers. If all thoughts and actions, if all the happenings on earth and beyond are orchestrated by God, then his power is wasted on mundane things that could not possibly affect fate. Is every eye movement accounted for? Is every twitch of the finger calculated? Every single hair positioned on my head in the exact way necessary for me to become a future astronaut, or politician? Do I walk every step in a predetermined footprint in order to secure my paycheck twenty years from now? Not even the wisest theologian could give reason for the management of these insignificant actions. So then what is the limit of God’s influence? Or, more importantly, what is necessary to maintain the natural order of things?

Accepting free will to some degree can alleviate these arguments, as we shall soon see. Adler observes that “a solution of the problem is sometimes developed from the distinction between God’s foreknowledge and God’s foreordination. God foreordained the freedom of man, but only foreknew his fall; man ordained that himself” (Adler 518; ch. 27). Adler then insinuates that God’s power is derived from our initial creation. Essentially, all of his influence was transferred at our conception; the fact that he gave us the power of free will proves his omnipotence. His influence, then, branched out from that initial creation of life. Our free will, foreordained by God, was manifested in action. That action, being created from our free will, carries the initial purpose of God. In this way, our actions spread God’s power and are, at the same time, direct manifestations of his will. This is a rather long-winded way of saying that God’s influence branched from the initial conception of life, so that all actions and reactions and causes and effects are indirectly foreordained by God. Our existence, then, is proof of free will because all of our actions entail the initial influence of God. Though this could undoubtedly be debated and debunked, then proven again, and then left to uncertainty, one must claim some common ground from which to theorize. How could we ever discover anything without a solid grounds from which to plant our lofty aspirations, and then from the tops of our dreams to wonder where those grounds even lie?

God is more human than we think, as we shall soon see. Are we not created in God’s image? So then why is there such dissociation between the want of God and the want of humanity? True enough he must be wiser than our wisest theologian, but his and our base instincts must be similar. His desire for love and friendship must match ours. His value of sacrifice must be just as strong as ours. He may not necessitate faith, but, perhaps, longs for others to have faith in him. To be more succinct, God did indeed have the foreknowledge of our actions, but suffice to say, that knowledge surprised him. However, our similarities are not so absolute that we act in the exact image of God. Rather, the differences between God and humanity is as the difference between you and I, between yourself and your neighbor, or your neighbor and his best friend. God made us from his template, and although the mold remains the same, each filling has different traces of greatness. God’s only difference from us is that he contains all the facets of greatness, and is therefore representative of the perfect human, whom can never exist.

So then where does that leave fate? If God is omnipotent he must have a plan for us, mustn’t he? I propose that fate is reminiscent of a photograph. Except this photograph spans the entire universe and encapsulates eternity. Neither you nor I could ever view or comprehend such a photograph, which is convenient because we aren’t God and do not have to interpret it. In this snapshot of everything and everywhen and everyone exists an ideal, and that ideal is Destiny. Destiny is the overall effect of the picture; it is the catharsis God experiences when he observes the universe. It would be beneficial at this point to make an observation about the nature of time. Though we experience time in a constant forward motion, who is to say that God’s experiences mirror ours? It would be horribly simple to assume God is limited by the same constraints that we are. So, if God is ever-present, that he exists everywhere at every time in eternity, then why is there so much argument over our conception? From God’s perspective we must seem terribly human. Because from God’s perspective, what is the difference between debating where we came from and where we will perish? In fact, why do we even argue about fate? Would it not be the same, from God’s perspective, to argue about reverse fate? Of arguing over whether our present state is fated by future events? That what we are today is determined by what is yet to come?

Returning then to the nature of fate seems a trivial pursuit after considering God’s presence in every corner of the universe in every moment in time. Haven’t we just proved that fate necessitates a linear perception of time? So why, then, do humans argue so? The explanation is simple: to argue about God fulfills an intrinsic human need. We can’t hope to postulate from God’s perspective, for we are forever trapped by the linear progression of time. To argue about God is to argue about the nature of things—to understand our surroundings fulfills the human urge to belong, to understand one’s own existence, and, more importantly, to qualify it. So, in order to make our existence seem meaningful, we argue about God’s plan for us. We believe that we are the sole focus of God’s attention, and that our fate is the only fate. But is God’s purpose not to ensure the life of the entire universe? Humans are virtually nonexistent when compared to the vastness of space. So where can we possibly hope to fit in along with stars billions of times larger than we are? With the trillions of solar systems that surround our one? It is the photograph of eternity: it is Destiny. We are just as much a part of Destiny as any other being, and therefore hold equal or more value to God as any other thing in existence.

Are we fated? Are all of our actions predetermined and scripted? It would seem not. Rather, we are the catharsis God experiences as he views the universe. Our existence remains in perpetual equilibrium; everything happens as it does because it must—because it creates the necessary emotion in God. This feeling no one can understand because it is the essence of all things. This emotion exists because the universe exists. This emotion can be no other emotion because it is the only emotion capable of representing the nature of things. God put us into existence because it was his need to feel the catharsis of the beauty and tragedy of human life. This perpetual perfection of the picture of our universe is God’s only desire; it is the only thing he knows. So, then, are we free? God, having created us, undoubtedly has the power to change what he wills. But in the vastness of everything, one hair misplaced on someone’s head, one extra tear shed, one supplementary laugh shared, does not affect the impact of the universe on God. But what about those things that do need to be fixed? Those actions that threaten God’s image of our universe?

In A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving creates a character that believes he is an instrument of God. In fact, Owen’s belief in God is so strong and unbending that he has complete faith in his own fate, which has been preordained by God. Owen’s life seems to be the embodiment of human submission to our creator. All the events that take place in his life he attributes to the divine will of God: “GOD HAS TAKEN YOUR MOTHER. MY HANDS WERE THE INSTRUMENT. GOD HAS TAKEN MY HANDS. I AM GOD'S INSTRUMENT” (86). Owen believes that he is an instrument of God’s will. Such devotion brings Owen’s own freedom into question. Is his piety so absolute that he submits his own free will in order to enact all of God’s wishes?

God must at times adjust certain events in order to preserve his eternal image of existence. So how does he do this? Does he simply reach out and blatantly regulate our actions? If God is as human as we have seen, we could assume that his techniques would be slightly more subtle. In choosing someone like Owen as a tool for divine will, God is able to discretely alter the way of things in order to more closely match his intended image of the universe. Owen, then, embodies the destiny of all things, as he is the hand of God and acts under his will.

One may then question whether God’s necessity to enact his will subjugates those people through which he acts. This is hardly the case. As Epictetus illustrates, those who strictly follow the path of God are free because their desires coincide with God’s:
He who is receiving instruction ought to come to be instructed with this intention: “How shall I follow the gods in all things, how shall I be contented with the divine administration, and how can I become free?” For he is free to whom everything happens according to his will, and whom no man can hinder. (Epictetus 119; vol. 12)
An instrument of God is free insofar as his will matches the will of God. This then raises the question, how is one free if all of his choices must coincide with those of God? However, if one is pious and acceptant of God’s will, his wishes will never differ from God’s. If one chooses to follow the path of God, he is exhibiting his free will. In fact, those who are used as God’s instrument may find even more happiness than those who are not: since every desire of a pious mind matches the desire of God, then every one of those desires will be fulfilled. In this way, living through God is the ultimate freedom, because every wish, being of the devout mind, is granted. This is the way in which God chooses to insert his influence to maintain the celestial picture of existence. By connecting with those who have intrinsic and boundless faith in his existence and rationale, he gives divine purpose to their already virtuous intentions.

One may then reason that God must be largely apathetic towards the plight of the many. After all, as long as the general scheme of existence remains intact, wouldn’t it follow that he has no need to interfere with our lives? In Emily Dickinson’s poem “It’s easy to invent a Life,” she attacks God’s seeming negligence towards the human race:
The Perished Patterns murmur—
But His Perturbless Plan
Proceed—inserting Here—a Sun—
There—leaving out a Man— (9-12)
Here, Dickinson asserts that in order for God’s “Perturbless Plan” to be fulfilled, certain sacrifices, such as human life, must be made. How does one argue against her? Again, the answer rests with the similarities between God and man. We are created as an imperfect image of God. As such, God’s emotional faculties are as high or higher than our own. So, how could a man with a moral conscious, much less God himself, sacrifice human life for his visualization of eternity? Simply put, he doesn’t. Though certain sacrifices, such as human life, sometimes must be made, God does not violate our free will. For those deeds, he already has a contingent of the willing, such as Owen Meany, whose desire to fulfill the destiny of the universe allows God to assert his influence on earth.

This assertion is supported, ironically, by Dickenson herself:
Oftener by the Claw of Dragon
Than the Hand of Friend
Guides the Little One predestined
To the Native Land. (“Far from Love the Heavenly Father” 5-8)
Dickenson claims that the hand of “the Little One predestined” (7) or the INSTRUMENT OF GOD, as Owen would say, is led more often by “the Claw of Dragon/Than the Hand of Friend” (5-6). God’s works that he imposes onto the willing participants of the human race are more often than not those things that cause pain and suffering. Considering that most people would rather choose the easier path in life, it would follow that those things we find most difficult in life are those things left to the hands of God. A Prayer for Owen Meany is an excellent example of this, as one of the most challenging faculties to gain in one’s life is faith. Throughout the novel John battles with different aspects of faith. As I have said before, faith is something that cannot be rationalized. As Page points out, “when one understands, it is intuitive and holistic. Either one has faith—that is, one believes without question—or one does not. The experience is unutterable and unsharable” (5). Therefore, faith is something that cannot be taught. But what of those people whose faith, or lack thereof, threatens the balance of our cathartic universe? Such is the case with John. So, God ensures John’s faith through the miracle of Owen’s life. John’s gains his faith from Owen, as he notes in the opening line of the novel: “He is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany” (1). Owen is indeed an INSTRUMENT OF GOD solely because he wills it so. By simply wanting to do God’s bidding, Owen turns his free will into a divine influence, and works as the hand of God.

The issue of sin, though seemingly unrelated, is another subject that I feel I must touch upon. In many texts, it is said that it is impossible for God to sin. This argument is furthered by Adler, who says “to deny that man sins freely means that God must be responsible for the evil that man does . . . It is a heresy to deny free will, for that imputes evil to God” (517; ch. 27). By Adler’s definition, it is a heresy to impose any of our actions unto God’s will, because that would mean that he is responsible for our sins. However, God is much more understanding than Adler leads on. If one concedes that God exists, as in Adler’s argument, then one must also accept that he knows everything that has and that will happen for eternity. If that is the case, then it would follow that God would be cognitive of our susceptibility towards sin. And if God, having created us, did not approve of our sin, then why did he create us in the first place? If he did not want sin on earth, wouldn’t he have created us differently, so that we would never sin? Therefore, God is cognitive and accepting of our sin. But, as Adler assumes, this does not impose sin unto God himself. For if he preordained us with the gift of free will, how can he stop us from sinning besides directly influencing each individual in the entire universe? There is a balance between good and evil just as there is a balance of all things. God treats sin and piety with the same value as any other facet of human existence. Therefore, to attribute sin to God simply because of human foolishness “is the most manifest folly”(Augustine 213; vol. 18).


“In many of the Greek tragedies, fate sets the stage . . . But the actors on the stage are far from puppets. Within the framework of the inevitable the tragic hero works out his own destiny” (Adler 515; ch. 27).

How deep does one need to dig before they are satisfied with their own foundation? It is true enough that philosophical debate fulfills a human need, and is integral to societal as well as personal development. But there must be some common concessions or we will be doomed to argue the same moot points for an eternity. So where does that foundation lie? What is the most basic assumption that we can all agree on? If it is simply that we exist, we can never hope to discover the meaning of life or the nature of God. Is common sense the next logical step forward? Everyone has common sense, but considering that “common sense . . . is a culturally determined set of constructs or assumptions which vary from culture to culture” (Page 8), even that could be argued to not be universal. It seems as if every step we trudge forward, we take another back. But what about a running leap? What if we take a leap of faith? Only by setting our foundation in the clouds can we hope to grow towards a loftier goal—to touch the hand of God.
 
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getyoursnackon

Actually, that's a really solid effort.

I'm a bit tired to be able to hunt for areas to critique, but curiously there's a ridiculous amount of rhetorical questions (perhaps?). I think they serve appropriately for persuation so in effect the abundance doesn't really take away from the charisma of the paper.
 
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