Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Opus 2013-33: Religion and Culture: Fatalism, part 1 of 2

Another common thread in religion is fatalism.  Another title for this is determinism.  This is a belief that everything is preordained and we have nothing to say about what is happening.  To use a phrase I fancy, “I’m just a helpless pawn in the hands of fate.”

There is a branch of psychology that jumps on this bandwagon.  You studied it in Psych 101.  It is associated with B.F. Skinner and called behaviorism.  While not technically a religion, it still tries to explain the meaning, or lack of meaning, in life.  In behaviorism you do not make free, intelligent choices.  You are just doing what comes as a result of heredity and environment.  If we could know all the inputs into your life we could perfectly predict what you would do and what the results would be.  It goes well with the concepts of evolution.  It reduces human beings to cogs in a vast machine.

Within Christianity the Calvinists have an approach to this under the words, “foreknowledge” and “predestination.”  The focal point is that at the creation of the world God chose who would find salvation and who would be condemned for eternity.  It was all laid down by His decree.  To me this is Theological Behaviorism.  Obviously that is a loaded title created by a non-Calvinist.

Predestination is also a factor for Muslims.  It is rooted, like Christianity, in a belief that God is all powerful and all knowing.  Like the Christians, Islam believes that God is free to grant salvation to whomever He chooses.  Different branches of Christianity dispute how He makes that choice but is Islam it is totally arbitrary from the human point of view.  Christians on the whole work in some kind of freedom of choice, but Islam stands firm.  It teaches that every action, even if seen as a choice, is caused and directed by God.  One of the frequent quotes you hear from Muslims is Inshallah or “as God wills.”

In its application the habitual utterance of Inshallah by Muslims is a culture stopper.  It is a good application of Marx’s “opiate of the people” comment.  It means that you always accept what happens because it is the will of God.  It is one of the reasons why some people think that democracy will never have a place in Islam because democracy demands the input from millions of human beings.  Democracy speaks of freedom of choice.  Fatalism means accepting your lot, no matter what it is.

Calvinists as a whole have never given in to total application of this idea.  That is probably because the Catholic Church has continued to hover on their horizon and that the Reformation also produced the Arminians who disagree on this issue.  The Calvinists have never been a united voice for Christianity.

As far as I can see, Islam does stand united on this point.  It has effected their culture.  It has locked them into the past and stifled innovation.  It creates a mindset that God will change things when he is ready and humans are supposed to accept whatever the situation is.

homo unius libri

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.