Divine Providence

In the words of Robert A Heinlein, “Theology … is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there.”

I find the concept of ‘Divine Providence’ and interesting one. It is usually used to express the idea that a deity, usually seen either as the Judeo-Christian God, or as a more distant ‘Supreme Architect ‘ of the universe.

Divine Providence is usually used to describe how an event or events transpired to favor one group of people over another.

Many of the founding fathers of the United States attributed battlefield victories and even the founding of the nation its self to ‘Devine Providence’.

Believing that ‘Devine Providence’ is on one’s side has been prevalent throughout history. What is especially interesting is how both sides in a conflict can believe that ‘Devine Providence’ is with them and in the same conflict and afterwards, find ways to justify this believe, regardless of the outcome.

It is thought that ‘Divine Providence’ saved General George Washington on many occasions from death during the Revolutionary War when he had horses shot out from under him and returned with bullet holes in his clothes, but always unscathed. So what can we think when we read that Adolph Hitler believed the exact same ‘Divine Providence’ protected him from many assignation attempts? Hitler himself referred to the same Christian God as those who attribute ‘Divine Providence’ to Washington. Did God really divinely protect both of them?

As humans, we are always striving to make sense out of chaos, order out of disorder. This extends to our habit of attributing favorable happenstances to ‘Divine Providence’. It is hard for most of us to accept that things ‘just happen’. We want a reason, a cause, a purpose for everything in our lives.

The fact is that ‘things just happen’ and we don’t like that, so we scramble to find something to attribute these things to. Good things are attributed to ‘Divine Providence’; that God favors us or is rewarding us for our faith. When bad things happen we attribute them to the devil or, worse, our own failing faith. We didn’t want it bad enough, we didn’t pray hard enough, we weren’t good enough.

Perhaps things ‘just happen’ and what is really important isn’t why they happen, but in how we deal with them.


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