On the Agency of God

If god doesn’t directly control your life, but indirectly influences it by manipulating others and shifting circumstances outside of your control, then that’s logically inconsistent. The agents of his control would vary depending on who he was trying to influence. God would be directly controlling you if you were those other people. What about them? This worldview is arrogant and vain, seeing others as the tools by which god rules yourself.

If god directly controlled your life and influenced those around you, then all hope is lost. Laws and societal structures mean nothing because they could be superseded by a capricious deity for the reason of aiming your course through life. It would be impossible to expect you to be responsible for your own actions; the blame would be shifted to an external force. Being nice has no effect. Murder would then be god’s will, and that would contradict our assumptions that he is a benevolent god. This worldview is faithless and cruel.

What, then, about a worldview in which god places absolutely no control on any of us so that we may be free to do and think as we wish? It would certainly align with the ideology many theists maintain about god giving us the gift of choice. So where is god, then? Once he built the system, did he walk away? The deists call this the “absent clockmaker” theory. He put the clockworks together, set the time, wound it up, and let it go to tick away in his pocket. He left us to grapple with our own choices and fate on our own, to shoulder our own blame, to rise above our worse natures.

Only with this worldview can we be truly deserving of the reward of an afterlife. Only with this worldview can we stand before him on judgment (for those that believe in that sort of thing) and declare that we fought through the struggle and bettered ourselves and our world around us. If I were a theist, this would be what I believed. It makes more sense, and it’s more dependable than the other two options. You can make your choices confident that forces outside of this terrestrial plane aren’t fiddling with natural laws or social order just to confound you. God’s not going to intervene when you’re in a bad place, and he won’t contravene when you’re finally in a good place. He won’t be standing back to let the devil test you, because that would be interfering with the clockworks. Being tested is no way to prove your mettle; sticking to your mettle while not being tested is the only way to prove your worth.

With the exception of the question of the existence of god, the deist approach is pretty close to where I am now in my own worldview. Most days I’m an atheist, some days I’m an agnostic. It’s not something I discuss openly in mixed company. I try to not be an evangelical atheist (you know those types), but sometimes I can’t help but froth at the mouth when I hear someone speaking nonsense; I’ll advocate for the devil if the need arises. I’ve had the fortune of being presented, during a younger age, with a panoply of other ways to view the subject of existence, many of which are unpopular with the current regional societal trends, but still worthy of consideration nonetheless. If I can pass those options on to someone else and help them to see the wider picture, my work is done.

Published by Shawn

He's just this guy, you know?