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leopardgecko123's avatar

Does God really plan everything or is it just that He knows everything?

Asked by leopardgecko123 (761 points ) September 21st, 2011 from iPhone

I am a Christian first of all and I would really appreciate if only Christians answered this because I don’t need to be told that I am stupid and that God doesn’t exist. I watch Hollywood movies and I know how a lot of people feel about Christians.
Now, does God really plan every single thing that happens? I know that He uses bad things and turns it into good things for some other people, but does He PLAN all of it? A lot of Christians say that God plans everything. I’m not sure if I believe that. I do believe that God knows everything, even if He may not plan it all. It says somewhere in the Bible that God knows the exact number of hairs one every persons head. I wonder, does the Bible say anything about God PLANNING everything or knowing everything. I’m not that great on remembering verses ( I know, I need to read up on my Bible). So if you know the answer or something in the Bible that may help me figure this out I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

God bless!

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53 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

Can people of other religions answer this question or just Christians?

Judi's avatar

We have free will. He didn’t create us to be robots that act according to a plan. He has a plan to save us from the Ultimate consequence of our choices, (death) but he doesn’t control our choices.

Judi's avatar

@Rarebear, I think she is looking for a Christian perspective, although even Christians disagree on issues of predestination.

Rarebear's avatar

Okay, I’ll just watch, then.

EB_631's avatar

God created us to have predestination with free will.

Joker94's avatar

I believe I have free will, and that I can shape my own fate. At the same time, though, I feel like God has some idea of how things pan out.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I am not Christian, but I once asked a Christian a similar question and he responded in a way that I think is lovely.

He told me that he thinks of God as a writer. God is writing our story and he knows how everything’s going to turn out, but nothing is set in stone until it’s been actually written down.

Hobbes's avatar

I think everything causes and is caused by everything else. In one sense we are free in each new moment, in another we have absolutely no control over anything. We are all part of an unimaginably vast and intricate system of energy, and there is no true separation between us and this infinity. We only imagine ourselves to be separate so that we can function in the narrow band of reality in which our bodies operate.

I think that if anything can be called God, it is everything, including us. Jesus was God, and so was Judas, and so were the Centurions, and so was the cross, and so were the nails. I am Jesus, resurrected and returned, and so are you, and so is every single person on this Earth. So is all life. So are these computers we’re using. There is nothing that is not God.

I don’t call myself a Christian, because that’s just a name. God is a word, like Allah, Brahma, Tao, Buddha…I believe that religions are human constructs, attempts to understand the Mystery. What I’ve written is the best language construct I can come up with, but I am fully aware that’s all it is.

I don’t think anybody, anybody really understands what’s going on. Nobody really knows what we are, or where we come from, or why we’re here, or where we’re going. Nobody truly understands the nature of time and fate and choice. Nobody understands consciousness and language. We love to make models, to categorize and quantify in an attempt to understand, and these mental constructs can be useful to a point but I think we forget that the map is not the territory.

I think the trick is to relax into the flow, and accept life as it comes.

Aethelflaed's avatar

You’re talking about the theological idea of predestination. Not all Christian denominations believe in it (though, this is true of almost all Christian theological issues). But, it’s a good link that has some info and can point you in the direction of finding out more.

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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Holy smokes, the way I see it is like a scientist who as has ran a particular experiment so many times, they know 98% who it will come out given if certain parameter exist. God knows what someone is going to do or their life will turn out because he can predict way better than a genius scientist as to who will do what in any given situation or confronted with any issue. As said before, God did not make us automatons, that would totally make the whole deal of Jesus Christ useless. Humans are all saved by grace, it is us who choose to chuck it aside or except it.

Nullo's avatar

Ah, getting into the complicated part of infinity!
God knows everything, and He has plans for things, but I don’t think it’s the case that He plans everything. Accounts for it, sure, but keep in mind that there’s a sort of ongoing battle, and people defy His will on a regular basis.

Thammuz's avatar

Atheist rised catholic here. Theoretically, it’s just the same thing, because god is an omnipotent being, and, since he knows everything, what happens is exactly what he wants, since his will is supposed to be the basis for the whole of reality (Let there be light and all that).

So yeah, from the exact moment any omnipotent and omniscient being has no equally omnipotent and omniscient counterpart, whatever happens in any realm of reality where its omnipotence applies is its direct responsibility.

SatouKimu's avatar

Well. I’m Agnostic and not Christian. I would really like it if you didn’t use hollywood stereotypes and shallow interpretations as a basis for all non-christian folk. :(

As a Agnostic, and if said that God exists, since God is supposed to give free will, I believe he knows what a person may do but it is up to that person what happens.

The talk of evil: natural evil versus moral evil. I think a Christian would answer that natural evil exists to punish the ones that have sinned (I personally think that’s insanely cruel).

dabbler's avatar

God is everything.
Our little portion of existence called humanity is granted free will, God has planned to allow us to free-range.

chokolatcake's avatar

God knows all and plans all…..... apparently.

Nullo's avatar

@SatouKimu I think OP was talking about Hollywood stereotypes about Christians.

smilingheart1's avatar

The earth is like a monumental stage where the big drama of life is being orchestrated 24–7 from the dawn of man, generation folding into generation. This is a global drama with God alone knowing exactly how many acts are involved before curtain time, but we each come on board and enter the big picture of life subject to what the world conditions are while we are here. This drama’s plot is always the struggle between good and evil, God wanting our attention to bring us light and freedom, the Satanic forces wanting our attention to chain us in bondage. We do see that even in the case of the rich and famous they can become very much enslaved to things that they cannot with all their wealth and fame be freed from without intense help.

Though each of us is part of humanity, we are uniquely individual and our lives will vary in a myriad of ways. God is intimately interested in the individual and has equipped us each with particular strengths, talents, abilities and desires which we generally feel pleased to tap into as part of our life’s purpose.

On the global stage collective humanity shapes the way the world will be for better our worse. God has given us that kind of empowerment. On the individual level we are totally free to choose, recognizing that consequences cascade from these choices. There is always cause and effect whether we are aware of what outcomes to choices will be or not.
There is nothing that ever catches God by surprise -the awareness of all our free will choices throughout the course of our lives is an open book. This is not predestination, simply a recognition by God. If God was ever NOT knowledgeable about any iota of anything, the whole universe would collapse.

This topic as all that is do to with God is both heavy theology and yet simple faith based on God’s written Word.

YoBob's avatar

It’s not a matter of knowing all or of having a plan. God is all. This is a rather difficult concept for many. We have a tenancy to want to anthropomorphize everything and thus create this image God as some sort of old man with a white beard who sits in the heavens and plays puppet master with we puny humans in an attempt to be able to talk/think about a concept that is quite beyond our ability to fully comprehend.

One of the most widely accepted definitions of God is a “being” that is ornnicious, omnipotent, and omnipresent. All that boils down to is a fancy way of saying that god is the sum total of everything in existence. So…it’s not a matter of god “knowing” everything in the sense we humans claim to “know” things, it is more a case of any given piece of knowledge being a part of the great universal collective “God”. Same goes for the “plan”. The need to perceive time in a linear fashion is one of our human limitations. However, in a larger universal sense any discrete moment in time is also a part of “God” and thus part of “the plan”.

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Hobbes's avatar

“I would really appreciate if only Christians answered this because I don’t need to be told that I am stupid and that God doesn’t exist. ”

Though not everyone in the discussion would call themselves Christian, I don’t think anyone’s attacking OP.

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augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Please take the off-topic discussion to an appropriate thread. Thanks!

LostInParadise's avatar

I mean no disrespect, but what difference does any of this make? It is like asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. How does the nature of the deity change what you do in your life and how does it alter your expectations? The sun will still come up every 24 hours; planets will still continue in their orbits, stubbornly following the laws of gravity; and our neck of the Universe will still be going through its slow disintegration. All we can do is live the best lives we can.

Ecclesiastes 5:18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot.

Hobbes's avatar

@LostInParadise

Well, what difference do any of the discussions happening on Fluther make? It’s all just talk. Good way to pass the time though, and it makes you think.

LostInParadise's avatar

@Hobbes , A lot of people ask very specific questions and even some of the more philosophical questions do have some real world implications. I get a little disappointed when people get hung up on the nature of God, because there are genuine spiritual issues to talk about that definitely relate to how we live our lives. I believe in humanism. What must come first are the values we place on things. I am not saying that we can agree on how to place values, but that is the point. These things have to be discussed so that people can make the most informed decisions.

leopardgecko123's avatar

@SatouKimu
No, I wouldn’t say that last part. We’re battling Satan. I mean, Jesus didn’t die for nothing. He saved us. It’s just that Satan deludes us into thinking we’re not good enough.
And I mean that Hollywood keeps making fun of Christians. And so do a lot of other people. I’m just saying that I already know that a lot of people hate Christians.

plethora's avatar

Certainly God knows everything. He is omniscient. Predestination is also true as is Free Will. Both are way too deep to cover here. But Ron White, the comedian, covers the subject pretty well when, upon being thrown out of a bar in NYC and the cops arrived, he says, “At this point, I had the right to remain silent, but I didnt have the ability.” He had “free will” and could have remained silent. But he did not have the strength or ability to stay silent.

ddude1116's avatar

I picture God as a person with an infinite set of dominoes, spending hours in the design, and then setting it free to go as it pleases.

shirleylopez's avatar

God plans and knows everything, this truth is everywhere in the Bible.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@leopardgecko123 Do you mind if I ask, what denomination are you part of?

leopardgecko123's avatar

@Aethelflaed I’m Baptist—I guess everyone just calls us Protestants, though.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@leopardgecko123 Protestant just means “not Catholic”. So it tends to be a pretty big tent.

Hobbes's avatar

@LostInParadise

I think any philosophical/theological discussion tends to get a bit abstract, but I’ll bite. The way I understand God is as being everyone and everything, and also perfect emptiness, absolute void. This certainly influences my values in that I try to see that divine nature within every moment. I place value on everything and nothing, and that awareness follows me every day. I think if we all acted as though we are all expressions of the same divine energy, as though we are all the Universe experiencing itself subjectively, as though there is no true separation between anything, we would live our lives very differently.

plethora's avatar

@Hobbes No offense, but might I note that philosophical/theological discussions get abstract with statements like this.

I place value on everything and nothing

It simply makes no sense whatsoever. As in “I value all tires and no tires”. HUH??

Hobbes's avatar

The idea of Ying and Yang expresses a similar concept. The Unity of Opposites. The Particle Wave Duality. It doesn’t make sense to our logical minds, but expresses a deep truth about reality. Seemingly contradictory concepts are actually one and the same.

I value all tires because they, like everything else, are expressions of Divine Energy. I value no tires because they, like all other expressions of Divine Energy, are transient, empty of any intrinsic, separate identity.

plethora's avatar

@Hobbes Ya know, I can understand the atheist who believes there is no God and trusts only in reason. Before you can expect me to understand you, define the terms…as in what is divine energy? If you cannot define at least one of your basic terms, then I just have to challenge the nonsensical lack of value of your abstractions.

Hobbes's avatar

The Universe is made of energy, which has condensed into matter as the Universe has cooled. This is widely agreed upon within the scientific community, I believe. I’m simply calling the energy Divine, to express my feeling that this source of all being is sacred, that our existence is an amazing miracle, and that we are connected on all levels to all other things.

plethora's avatar

@Hobbes Thank you. You are an atheist, for all practical purposes. Wrong on all counts, from my Christian perspective, but that is your choice. Energy is not our Creator and energy is not divine, notwithstanding your right to call it what you will. Our existence is an amazing miracle, but not for the reason you think. As for being connected to all other things, I would heartily disagree.

Thank you for the definition.

Hobbes's avatar

I think you feel disconnected because all humans have a very powerful sense of being separate from one another and the world. But it seems to me that recent scientific discoveries and the mystical traditions of many if not all religions are pointing to the idea that existence is a single interconnected system of which we are a part.

plethora's avatar

Only in your scenario, Hobbes.

Hobbes's avatar

I know. All I have to go on is my own perception and experience, which is incomplete and imperfect, but that’s the best I’ve been able to come up with, for whatever it’s worth.

Prosb's avatar

@plethora Just wanted to let you know that I think I’m going to use that as a response anytime someone brings up their view in relation to religious matters. (In reality, not on Fluther.)
And it will be to any view after they are done stating it; Christian, Islamic, Atheist, etc.

I think the Christian god is supposed to be planning out everything, and that it is believed that these plans which harm people in the short run, turn into something beneficial in the future. As for freewill, I wouldn’t say humans have it if the god that makes them is omniscient, since that means he/she will know for a fact what you will do.
I think it’s just one of those things you are assumed to have faith in, to trust that he is setting you on the right track, and that a premature demise has a greater purpose than you can see with mortal eyes.

LostInParadise's avatar

Since God is omniscient and always does the optimally correct thing, it follows that God has no free will. If we knew the laws of morality that God operates by and appended them to the laws of physics, there would be no need to posit the existence of God. It is true that we are not omniscient and therefore could not make completely accurate predictions, but that holds in the physical realm as well and is not relevant. The concept of God is devoid of meaning.

Jeruba's avatar

The 2011 movie The Adjustment Bureau has an interesting take on this question. I just watched the DVD last night and enjoyed it.

plethora's avatar

@Jeruba Looks interesting. I’ll take a look at it.

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