why I don’t believe in predestination
a bit off the usual trail of this blog here, but bear with me.
I was having a conversation with a Christian friend who’s but a shell of the person he used to be before hereditary mental illness kicked in just after he graduated from high school. He’s lost a lot of his mental ability, and it frustrates him greatly.
He asked me if I believed we had free will. I nodded. He swallowed, and faltered. “I… I believe God planned everything that happened to me, and to you. He planned my disorders. And they’re getting worse. So I just have to cope.” And that struck me as utterly… sad.
I don’t know how much help I was. Probably none at all. But I clarified that I didn’t just believe in free will, I had to believe in it. I refuse to do otherwise. And this is why.
I don’t know if there is a god. At the best of times (from a religious point of view), I’m happy operating within the Christian framework of understanding. But even then I haven’t had, and never will, this coveted “relationship with God” thing. Ze’s never talked to me, and fuck knows I’ve tried, tried most of my adolescent life to feel like I was worthwhile by the metric most of my community use for self-worth. Maybe I’m just not cut out for faith. Maybe I’m really just not good enough for the big guy. But in any case, if there wasn’t a god, surely we’d have free will, being that there is no higher being to plan shit. And don’t give me that “we’re just a mass of chemical reactions” stuff. From a philosophical point of view, it doesn’t matter if we are.
And if there is a god - and I have to say, if ze’s the Christian God, then he seriously needs to get his followers in check - I still refuse to believe ze’s planning everything out. Simply because if I don’t believe I can make my own choices, there is nothing left to believe in. Everything is pointless.
Choosing to believe there is a higher being out there who actively plans every single thing that happens to every single person, that is, that free will doesn’t exist, is choosing to believe there is a powerful being which planned my life.
Which planned for me to be basically a late-term abortion but to survive anyway, if physically poorly built as a result. Which planned for the special snowflake complex forced upon me once it became clear in the religious community I grew up in that the special-snowflake-birth was partnered by a special-snowflake academic ability. Which planned for the gender-non-conformity, and the incredibly racist and sexist relatives who surrounded me, and the friendless childhood and the repeated rape (and the repression of such memory for so long I can hardly believe that I remember it now, that it’s memories and not stuff I’m making up) and the torture and the faint scars of it, now fading (not mercifully, since at least the scars told me that I couldn’t be making it up). Which deliberately planned the combination of events and personality and people that led to me being the terrible wreck that is being the prize pupil of every class and school and also wrestling with flashbacks and panic attacks and multiplicity and religion I can’t have faith in because it was planned for me to be unable to feel. In short, not having free will means I’m a puppet trapped in a play where the puppeteer is acting out his sadism on toys that can’t retaliate or respond other than just comply - except that said puppeteer gets off on doing this to thousands of puppets who are sentient.
I refuse to believe in a god like that, if I believe in one at all. Because believing that would mean giving up. Because it would mean that there is nothing I can do to make any day even the slightest bit better for myself, so I may as well not try. Because it means that hope is a hopeless thing to have, and that’s all that’s keeping me alive.
If you’re a Christian who believes in complete predestination and thinks that the theory of evolution takes away from the beauty of creation, no offense to my friend, you are an utter fuckwit.
I’d rather be a mass of chemicals than play puppet to someone who claims to care about the individual but consciously plans life on an individual scale to be terrible for thousands.
At least the randomness of my complex sentient existence as a mass of matter is beautiful and worth believing in.