Insh’allah And The Deus Vulture

Some ways in which the Abrahamic religions talk make it clear that “God” is actually a word for “the stuff that happens”. The Apostle James warns us not to say that that tomorrow we shall do this or that, because God might have other ideas, that is, we might be prevented by unforeseen circumstances. The Muslim addition of “if God wills” to absolutely every statement about the future expresses the same idea. We do not know what is coming down the pipe at us and ought not to take it for granted that the universe will let us do what we had in mind. When Christians or Muslims talk about accepting God’s will, some atheists and humanists get quite upset at this submission to the tyranny of the sky man. When, however, their fellow unbelievers say, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles” or “Shit happens”, or “Que sera, sera,” they do not get upset, even though it is really the same thing in other words. It is what it is, and acceptance of what it is need not be sneezed at.

There is, however, a point at which this Deus sive natura approach becomes something very different. Anyone who holds to a pure Insh’allah position, regarding whatever actually happens as being the will of God, cannot really say that God’s will is whatever is not happening, or looks unlikely to happen unless we make it happen. Whatever actually does happen instead has to be the will of God, because if it wasn’t, it would not have happened. I will stand corrected by al-Azhar, but I suspect that the alternative view of the will of God promoted by such as Islamic State is actually a Christian contamination.

For the Christians, or many of them, quickly forgot their James. Some say deo volente in just the same way as he instructed and Muslims say Insh’allah, but the majority has always seen the will of God, not as what happens, but was a plan laid in heaven that might or might not happen, depending on us. That is, God is not actually omnipotent but can know frustration and disappointment. Deus vult! cried the audience at Clermont; God wills something that has not happened yet, and we know what it is. It is probably a coincidence that Deus vult was a slogan of perhaps the most unpleasant man I have ever encountered, but the inherent arrogance of the cry is harder to deny. For the claim is that reality itself may be non-conforming and at fault; God is not after all identical with reality; we know what the will of God is, but something else has happened instead, probably because of your sins; so reality is in the dock and we are its judges.

Posted on June 15, 2009 at 09:58 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, Shit Happens

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