The will of God, or a cop out?
Alright, it's time to get a little controversial, albeit hopefully without anybody taking this one too personally. There was a post over on Bike Journal a little while ago referring to peak oil and possible future shortages. Actually, from memory the thread had died a little while ago, but came back last week (as old threads sometimes do), with one or two opinions basically expressing the opinion that "Christ controls history" and attempting to place less emphasis on the effects of our own actions in terms of their effect on the world in which we live. Without wishing to insult anybody's beliefs in this post, to me it all sounded like a bit of a cop out.
Think about this, each of us individually has the power to change the world in which we live every single day, even if it's only in small ways. The way I react to an abusive motorist when cycling home from work can change the world for that moment by determining whether the confrontation escalates into something serious that could drag other people into it (possibly even the police), or whether it ends harmlessly.
I remember walking at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania a couple of years ago, and hearing a call for help from another walker who had managed to get themselves lost. Here I am faced with a choice -- do I go and offer my assistance? Or do I simply leave it to "the will of God" as to whether this person will receive the assistance they require, and walk on? As it happened, I chose the former option, and assisted this person in finding their way. In a sense, I changed the world at that moment. It mightn't have meant much to someone on the other side of the world at the time, but it appeared to mean a lot to the person I helped. Of course, somebody else may have come along 10 minutes later and done the same thing, but on the other hand, perhaps they felt that yet somebody else would come along.
While the examples I give above may seem relatively benign, it should be put into perspective -- for they also represent changes that can be brought about by one individual without a great deal of effort. Just imagine the forces that the human race could harness if it ever collectively decided to change the world. I genuinely believe that if there were enough will to do it, things like famine and war (and yes, even peak oil) could be completely eradicated from the face of the planet within a few days. Of course, it's doubtful whether there is truly enough genuine goodwill in the world to bring this about (despite the "feel good" speeches from certain politicians), but that doesn't suggest to me that people can't deal with this -- merely that many of them simply don't want to.
It's also worth remembering, that if God (whatever we perceive Him to be, or whatever name we use to refer to him) wanted to interfere, he could. If everything we read about God is true, he has the power to obliterate all of the world's problems in a nanosecond. Yet he does not, instead he has sent us to inhabit the world. This suggests to me that we have a purpose, a reason for being. It also suggests to me that we have to deal with the consequences of our actions in this life.
In short, people have choices to make about how they affect this world. I will have to deal with the consequences of my reactions to that hostile motorist that I encounter, the same way that we, as a society, will have to deal with the consequences of our use of natural resources. Neither God, nor any other deity is going to come along and fix things up for us. Oh, and one other thing, how did you change the world today?