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.