Everything Happens For A Reason

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Gillette, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. Gillette

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    Does it? Does it really?

    This expression, to me, has always been just an inane noise people make when they don't know what to say to an upset person. It's continued use is ironic in that I've never seen it have a soothing effect.

    Are there any pointless pearls of (supposed) wisdom that bother you?
     
  2. Hoss

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    It's always darkest before the dawn.

    When 1 door closes another opens.

    If they left, then they weren't good enough for you.

    All good things come to he who waits.
     
  3. nudeyorker

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    Pretty much along the same lines. "It was meant to be" or "It was Gods will" I almost took someone out for uttering those two phrases to me at my mothers memorial service.
     
  4. JustAsking

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    I agree completely with this particular notion. It is a kind of folk religion/superstition that is very popular these days. American Christian fundamentalism has made it part of their doctrine, but you can hear it from a few people in just about all denominations.

    Not only is it not Biblical, but the oldest book in the Bible, Job, rejects that notion quite resoundingly.

    With fundamentalists and evangelical Christians, the notion gets extended to the idea that God has a plan for each and every one of us and God's plan for us reaches down into the minutae of every day life. You might hear one of them say, "God didn't want me to get that job." And so on.

    This notion is an anathema for mainstream Christianity. It implicates God in as much evil, misery and suffering as anything else. So when a fundie tells me that God has a plan for everything, I ask them what was God's plan for 8 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

    The phrase that you mentioned, "Everything happens for a reason.", is kind of a New Age variant.

    So yeah, imagine you are in the hospital dying of cancer and friends drop by and try to console you saying that everything happens for a reason. A nasty theology, for sure.
     
  5. JustAsking

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    "God only helps those who help themselves."

    9 out of 10 fundamentalists will swear that this is Biblical, when the Bible implies just the opposite. I think it was Ben Franklin who actually said this.
     
  6. LaFemme

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    "Everything is going to be alright"

    First heard minutes after my mother died. That was over 30 years ago and I'm still waiting. My mother is still dead. Not a day goes by that I don't miss her. I learned to live without having her in my life, but it has never been alright that she is gone.
     
  7. Woody110

    Woody110 Active Member

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    Hoss, your last one hits the nail on the head for me.

    Crap sayings - argh! Especially the contradictory ones.

    If absence makes the heart grow fonder, what about out of sight out of mind? And do many hands make light work or do too many cooks spoil the broth?

    I'm sure there are dozens more.
     
  8. luka82

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    Well I don`t about everything, but SHIT HAPPENS FOR A REASON! ;)
     
  9. D_Tim McGnaw

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    The Irish variant, which is really more of a colloquial formula is "God be willing" or "God willing" I suppose it's the same as saying "Insha'Allah" all the time which many Muslims do. Despite it being only a rote phrase it pisses me off inordinately.

    Other common platitudes which piss me off are;

    "hindsight is 20/20"

    of wedding days "the happiest day of your life"

    "What goes around comes around" which is usually wrong in any case, but is mostly used to excuse rampant schadenfreude, please people if you want to gloat about someone's troubles do so honestly.

    "Time heals all wounds" it doesn't. It heals some wounds, but not all.

    "Pride comes before the fall" used to belittle people with self confidence.
     
  10. mexdude

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    "Everything Happens For A Reason", for me this was kind of true
     
  11. XSILVER

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    I use to feel the exact way as you do but through the years I'v changed my views and now beleive in the saying. It may take several years to figure out "WHY" something bad happened, but "everything happens for a reason"
     
  12. D_Lanksesbye Sleepingrawe

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    "Size doesn't matter." :smile:
     
  13. Industrialsize

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    "God only gives you as much as you can handle"

    Utter bullshit!
     
  14. DiscoBoy

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    One that particularly bugs me is present in both English and Portuguese and that would be "God willing" or "Se Deus quiser". In Portuguese, however, it is almost always preceded by a leave-taking, so for example, "See you later...God willing" ("Até logo...se Deus quiser") which adds such a depressing and negative tone to any farewell.
     
  15. exwhyzee

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    The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away
     
  16. Joll

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    I think it's bollocks, tbh. :/

    Lots of things happen as a result of something else...that's all.
     
  17. Joll

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    That one's crap too.

    As is, 'it could be worse'? Could it?

    I normally say 'See you later...unless I die'. Adds a very nice and positive spin to things. :wink::biggrin1:
     
  18. 209THOR

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    Giving up is, giving in...I cant say if it is cuz I havent gave up.
     
  19. JustAsking

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    Regarding the two quotes above. I think the important distinction is the notion of intent or design. Naturally, every event has a cause, but the saying implies intention as in "Everything happens according to some plan.", as in God's plan.

    So if I am killed in an avalanche, when someone says that "Everything happens for a reason", they are not simply saying that the avalanche must have been caused by a set of natural conditions. But rather the implication is that me being killed by the avalanche is all according to some grander plan that requires my death.



    Yes, another saying that evangelicals think is Biblical, but it is not.
     
  20. Calboner

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    I started to write a reply to this topic this morning, then set it aside when I saw how long and ponderous it had gotten. But now, having a read a post by JustAsking in which he makes a point similar to my own regarding the confusion between causation and intention, I want to post what I wrote, ponderous or not:

    Of course: it is a de-theologized version of the words of Job's comforters. That makes it not merely unconsoling but positively insulting and demoralizing when it is addressed to the victims of serious misfortunes; because it means "You had it coming to you." But I think that there are plenty of people who apply this saying to their own misfortunes as well, indeed to all their experiences--at least when it suits their mood to do so.

    I find the saying particularly irritating because it suggests a highly dubious theological thesis while assuming the guise of a truism. "For everything that happens, there is a reason" would be a truism. It means merely that everything that happens can be attributed to some cause or causes. But the phrase "for a reason" implies not just causation but intentional agency. Thus the saying smuggles the dubious idea of an intentional agent or agents making things happen under the guise of the commonplace idea of things happening in consequence of other things that happen.

    In fact, the saying does not even make sense. It makes no sense to apply the phrase "for a reason" to mere happenings as such. For instance, say a creaking sound comes through the ceiling. We might ask: Why does that happen? The answer might be: Someone is walking around in the apartment upstairs. That is the reason (or a reason) why the sound happens. We can also ask: Why is the person upstairs walking around? The answer might be: She has things to do around her apartment (and why shouldn't she walk around there, anyway?). That is the reason (or, again, a reason) for her walking around. Now consider the question: "For what reason does the ceiling creak?" This is a bizarre combination of words. If the person asking it means exactly what he says, then he must think that the ceiling is an agent, and that creaking is something that it does intentionally; for only then would it be intelligible to ask for what reason it does so. More likely, though, the question is just an affected and confused way of asking, "What causes the ceiling to creak?" (or more simply, "Why is the ceiling creaking?").

    In sum: Nothing happens for a reason: rather, people do things for reasons. The very combination of the phrase "for a reason" with the verb "happen" is logically confused. So it is intellectually dishonest to say that "everything happens for a reason." People who say that don't even believe what they say, because what they are saying makes no sense.

    The thought behind such an utterance, to the extent that one can attribute any coherent thought to it, is that everything that happens does so because someone--some intelligent agent, whether human or superhuman--makes it happen, and that any such act, the making-happen, is done for a reason. But now, to say, "Everything that happens is made to happen for a reason" is not nearly so catchy as the original saying, is it? No; it does not go down easily at all--and not just because it is longer than the original saying by a couple of words. Rather, it makes anyone who hears it want to say, "How do you know that? What basis can you possibly have for such a claim?" But it is simply an explicit formulation of the metaphysical contention that was being smuggled into people's minds in the guise of a truism in the original formula.
     
    #20 Calboner, Jan 31, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2011
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