Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Recently someone wrote to me the words "you know things happen for a reason"...

Now, before I launch into my rant I want to point out that this is not a rant against the writer of that statement. Nor is it against the hundreds of people that have told me something similar. It is sometimes aimed at comforting someone in pain, and thats never a bad thing. At other times its an attempt to highlight the good that comes out of the bad or the stupid. My wife often uses it this way: "if I had done X, than we might not have met, so I guess it all happened for a reason". 

So, don't take this personally but... POPPYCOCK!

Everything does not happen for a reason! At least not in my estimation. 

I have never even understood the attraction of this neo-Calvinist thinking. Personally I find the idea of a God or Gods micromanaging things to the level that this statement implies to be deeply disturbing. Want to say that certain Avatars are born for a reason, for good or ill? Ok. Want to even say that some major events and historical personas occur for a reason? Eh. I disagree, but I can role along with it. But are you seriously thinking that you dropped out of college so that you could meet your future husband in the city that you were waitressing in? Ummmm no. You were just friggin lazy and dropped out. 

By all means, be thankful that events turned out the way they did because you are so happy now. But do not view your life as a series of events that "were meant to happen". Its a cop out. It gives you the freedom to wallow in your neurosis and lower nature. It also gives you the liscence to do stupid things because "if I am meant to die/get hurt/go bankrupt today, than nothing I do is gonna change that".

It seems magickal to say shit like that but its the total opposite. 

Always remember religion in its outer form is there to provide certainty to the masses that need answers on why people die, why bad things happen, and how to be a good person. Magick and Mystecism is there to shake up your certainty.  

Religion provides translation, Mystecism provides transcendence, Magick provides transformation. 

I think the worst manifestation of "things happen for a reason" is when survivers of a tragedy talk about how blessed they are because God chose them to survive. No one ever asks what God had against all the other people who died in the plane crash. 

If you wind up marrying the paramedic that pulls you from the burning wreck after you crash into a tree on the Parkway, that doesnt mean that it was meant to happen. It just means you should slow the fuck down. 


JM said...

Yeah, I guess my response to that statement is more an agreement and refinement:

Everything happens for a reason, just sometimes they're really DUMB reasons.


Rufus Opus said...


I'll come up with a more reasoned and rational response later, but on this one I completely and totally disagree with you. You can't make everyone a magician, no matter what you do. You can't empower the most willing, most perseverant person who has no innate ability. And you can't avoid magic if it's what you're destined to do. Everything points to causality, even chaos. The feeling of synchronicity, the mechanics of the brain during dejavu, the way we're hardwired to accept the software... It's all predestination.

Turtles all the way down, brother.

WitchDoctorJoe said...

"Religion provides translation, Mystecism provides transcendence, Magick provides transformation."

That's Awesome, I love that.

But I disagree a bit myself. As the survivor of several wartime tragedies, I can say there is some odd form of grand design, however rough around the edges as it may be. I have witnessed it at work, I am living proof.

Living in tune with this divine synchronicity is the true path and great work. Blessed Be.

Frater BH said...

"I think the worst manifestation of "things happen for a reason" is when survivers of a tragedy talk about how blessed they are because God chose them to survive. No one ever asks what God had against all the other people who died in the plane crash."

Damn straight. I have pointed this out many times and received very odd looks for my efforts!

Jow said...

I agree with your disagreement with the idea that the whole of the multiverse is behaving on a grand design and there is really no free will.

However I DO agree that everything happens for a reason, but just based on causality. Sometimes our gods, invisible friends, spirit guides, whatever, intervene. Sometimes it's just causality.

Like I met my current g/f through our housemate who was in a less than optimal housing situation, and who became buddhist due to various unpleasant life experiences. Had he not had housing trouble he would have never been in the state, and had he not had some terrible experiences he would not have been buddhist, and thus would not have gone to Crucible one year and mentioned that he was buddhist within earshot of me, which would not have led to me doing tequilla shots with the g/f.

Definite causal chain of events. Divine plan? Hell if I know. I didn't plan it. There is something to be said for finding meaning in the push-pull tug of war of unfolding reality. So long as it doesnt divorce you from that reality or infect you with Special Snowflake Syndrome (SSS for sort).

Monsignor Scott Rassbach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monsignor Scott Rassbach said...

See my comments here

yuzuru said...

"I think the worst manifestation of "things happen for a reason" is when survivers of a tragedy talk about how blessed they are because God chose them to survive."

In reality, I remember seeing an Oprah´s show (I know, shame on me) which interview several people, who were survivors of strange or unual things, like having being stroke by a lighting. Even the guy which was stroke by the lighting though that God was by his side (put his own joke here).

But the guy who was one of 30 out 120 people to survive a burning plane didn´t think so. He thought more like yourself. Everybody else in the show was happy to say that "god saved me" even though you could as well argue that was the big guy who put them in that situation. But the guy from the plane couldn´t use that justification, because of the "why me" factor. Instead of being megalomaniac, he rather choose to think it was just dumb luck.

yuzuru said...

and, besides all that, finding meaning in everything is one of symptoms of schizophrenia


Lazy Magus said...

I’m also in agreement with your disagreement. I think for the most part as humans we have a tendency to link events together and in the process of connecting them we call these episodes our destiny. When people meet the love of their lives, encounter their perfect job, survived a tragedy they review these events that lead up those moments, and they say: “God has a plan.”

On the other hand, when life goes sour, saying that God has a plan seems to serve as a balm to our emotional injury. I can’t count the number of times after my wife passed away seven months ago (going on eight) that every well-meaning friend, relative, and acquaintance applied that phrase “God has a plan for you” ad nauseum. It was kind of them to say, but inward I knew that there is no plan. No explanation. No justification. It was what it was and there was no changing it or elucidating it.

We’re meat-puppets. We only have a finite time in this world, and we make of it what we will. We do magic, as you say, to transform and mysticism to ascend. We use our brains to translate by the assistance of religion, science, and the philosophy of our choice. Everything else is wishful thinking.

Don said...

Wow. This might be one of the most polarizing posts yet.

I have too many thought to put onto just a comment...

I'll just have to jump on the bandwagon and post about it.

Quaero Lux said...

Nobody seems to have considered that it could in fact be both. We have complete free will and an infinite number of choices and all those choices and all potential outcomes are contained in the Divine Order. So there is a plan, and it contains EVERYTHING.

Mike Rock said...

"No one ever asks what God had against all the other people who died in the plane crash. " -- well isn't the answer obvious? He loved them so much he wanted them next to his throne. The rest who lived? "Eh you and you and you, be off with ye, blarney lads.. back to the meat sacks for now with ya.."

Vecher said...

We are going the direction we are because of decisions we and others make based on past experiences that resulted from decisions that we and others made previously, and the molecules happening to be where they are as they are.

So, it all just kind of happens.
Except for what we decide. Every moment is a decision in the direction of our lives (which effect the lives of others and the rest of the universe at large, even if only negligibly. The likely hood of your existence is less than negligible, but here you are), though a huge percentage of humanity seems content to leave it on autopilot for the majority of the time.

Er, I guess that's just my take on it. Kudos to anyone who actually stuck with me through the whole thing or was diligent enough to reread it.

Anonymous said...

I think it's all predetermined. Paul McCartney showed up one day to a garden fete, and met a young and very drunk John Lennon. TAnd history changed. That, my friend, was scripted.

Melissa Gerber said...

God doesn't have anything against people who die in tragedies while others live. Maybe their time was up.