Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

How does one person die and another live? Is it random? Is it destiny? Does each death have reason or purpose? Or are we just carbon and water reacting to chemical reactions in our brains?

Science tells us that the thought centers of our brains don’t show activity until a few microseconds AFTER we do something. That would imply (as author Scott Adams said so succinctly) that we are merely acting based on chemical reactions, and then rationalizing the action after the fact.

Here in Kansas City a couple of days ago, a schoolbus full of kindergartners slammed into two cars. Both of the drivers of the two cars were killed. 3 of the children are on life support. 20+ children were injured.

How did those two men happen to be there at that exact moment? Why was it them and not someone else? Did they take that route every day, or were they going somewhere they usually didn’t go? Were they good people, or were they bad people, being punished by God?

When an airplane crashes, hundreds of people die. Is it a completely random selection process, or is something in nature, or God, arranging the exact people onto the flight that He wants dead? Do the deaths of the people have some “greater good” that we just don’t understand, or is it once again purely random?

Whenever someone dies unexpectedly, people ask the same questions: Why did this happen? Why him and not someone else? What is the “greater purpose”? Are people trying to rationalize a tragic random event, or are these questions legitimate? Can the answers ever be known?

I was taught from a young child that all deaths have a higher purpose. I’m not sure I believe that. Is there a master plan, a drama in which we are all actors, and God is the director? Or does God merely know what’s going to happen, but does not actively direct?

Where I have settled in my own mind on this topic is this: Deaths can be random and have no higher purpose. Many times deaths occur when someone else makes a foolish decision, or chooses to commit a crime. God does not force people to think a certain way. We have free will to decide our own course. However, the free will of other people can slop over into our paths, hurting or even killing us. God does not predestine activities, but because he is omniscient, he has foreknowledge of everything that will happen… everyone’s decisions, and how they will interact with other people’s lives.

I don’t know what happened to cause that bus crash, but here’s a scenario for you. The two men in their cars were on their way to work, as they had done every day for 20 years. The previous week, the bus had been in for a maintenance inspection, but the person doing the inspection had just finished smoking pot, and didn’t notice the leak in the brake line. The bus driver tried desperately to stop, but was unable, because of the decision of the maintenance worker to smoke pot on the job. One person’s bad decision impacts 25 families, at least 2 of them tragically.


  18 comments for “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

  1. May 11, 2005 at 10:05 am

    She sounds like an awesome girl! Probably like the most awesomest girl EVER! You sure you’re THAT lucky? *snicker*

  2. May 11, 2005 at 10:07 am

    Well, she says she likes me, but she might be lying, I suppose… Nah.

  3. May 11, 2005 at 10:20 am

    If she’s lying, I’ll kick her ass myself.

  4. May 11, 2005 at 10:24 am

    now that I’d like to see!

  5. May 11, 2005 at 11:15 am

    Is it safe to come in here right now, or are you two making out again? wait … I *want* to see that!

  6. May 11, 2005 at 11:57 am

    whoa dude. you’re killing my buzz.

  7. May 11, 2005 at 1:17 pm


    Pull my Incredipeter.

    (I’m only, you know. I don’t have one.)

  8. Rik
    May 11, 2005 at 1:17 pm

    Seriously, huh, DK? This has turned into some kind of junior high dance make-out room in the back of the gym. ANYWAY!
    Incredipete, it sounds like you’re leaning toward being a Deist. I think it goes like this: God is all powerful, and knows everything; created everything, but much like a guy with a model train set in his attic, has simple turned it on and lets it go. Just watches and doesn’t interfere. He COULD, but that’s not His bag, baby! Look into it . . .And there’s nothing wrong with pot, as a matter of fact, it helps many people pay attention to detail, unless you’re working on cars of course.

  9. May 11, 2005 at 1:19 pm

    God is Dead–Nitchze

    Nitchze is Dead- God

    I think that your mind id befuddled with thoughts of the naughty nature and you can’t think staight.

    Not that there is anything wrong with that, I’m just saying!

  10. Rik
    May 11, 2005 at 1:21 pm

    Plus, if God were to interfere, wouldn’t that impose on our free will, and therefore negate the concepts we have of good and bad? Then what do we base our behaviour on, if whether we go to Heaven or not has already been predetirmined? I’m just playing the devil’s adovocate ’cause i already know i’m going . . . i’m Catholic.j/k

  11. May 11, 2005 at 1:56 pm

    Sorry about the whole “making out” thing. I mean, even I puked after reading it…

  12. May 11, 2005 at 2:34 pm

    How does kicking one’s arse consitute “making out?” I’m confused. As far as predestination goes… I think I need a beer.

  13. May 11, 2005 at 2:43 pm

    Well, ya know … a little bit of tickling or wrestling or arse-kicking or spanking can help to stir up the ol’ lusty passions …

  14. May 11, 2005 at 3:13 pm

    Here you go Dear… *Jenna pops open beer bottle with teeth* ‘Cause I’m classy like that.

  15. May 11, 2005 at 4:07 pm

    good grief, Incredipetey likes a girl who has teeth!

  16. May 11, 2005 at 4:19 pm

    Not really, they’re fake. lol

  17. Rik
    May 11, 2005 at 4:42 pm

    How come everytime i step in here, i feel like i’m at home? Oh yeah, the girls in KY don’t have teeth, that’s right!

  18. May 12, 2005 at 2:23 pm

    9 – are

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