What is wrong with saying, "Everything happens for a reason"?

"Everything happens for a reason," is a very popular saying. If it encourages people to help you that is bad for it means that if they were sure no help would be effective they would not try.  It encourages many to walk on by.  If they think God is doing the helping through them and it is not them that is a very bad thing too.  It denies that anything is intrinsically human and secular.  And what about those who hope that as everything works in a chain that even their own tragic death will somehow bring bad luck on their hated enemies?  Who says that the reason you suffer and die has to be a good one for others?


Anyway the saying has implications.  It has derivatives such as "God does not make mistakes", "God wouldn't let anything you cannot handle with his help happen to you" and "God will never leave you on your own and he is always supporting you even if he does not take the problem away.  He is there by your side as a friend even if he is not healing."  To be blunt, it says every bad thing is a "happy accident" and patronises you that you will see that in time.  Accident does not seem to be meant literally for if God takes that much control it is a simulated accident and thus intended to happen.


With regard to the suggestion that God carries you even when you are at rock bottom and especially when you are that low, we mean healing in the practical sense.  The doctrine claims that somebody who is unable to do something for some reason but who is there is still healing you in a passive sense.  It is like how company is good for you even if it does not feel like it. So you have this companion God and you are supposed to care about his presence even if in theory it cannot do you any real practical good.


The truth is that "Everything happens for a reason" is talking down to you.  A genuine person will not give you that message at all but will listen and maybe do something for you that you ask.  It is a lack of empathy.


"Everything happens for a reason" encourages you to look away from the emotional and other troubles that come when something goes wrong in your life. Thus you are prevented from learning from the experience properly and left unable to protect yourself from future hurt. It encourages a form of positive thinking which distracts you from how you feel because you have to try and turn a blind eye to the problems. You end up being unable to manage at times. If you want to manage and accept the situation, you simply have to recognise that any trauma that hits you, just hits you - it did not happen for a reason. If the truth is that there was no reason for it, that is what you must accept. Real positive thinking does not care if something happens for a reason or not - it cares about how to make the best of it and is confident that something can be done even if not much.


Another grave harm is that if the higher power that drives us to get through the most hopeless cases, is just some chemistry in us then the God idea is harmful for it is looking for help in the wrong place. The help is in us. It is us.

"Everything happens for a reason" turns us into puppets. Or if it does not it may as well for God has to turn what happens to us into some kind of scheme that he is controlling though it may not look like it.  Our free will does not stop us being puppets. Or worse we have no free will. Take your pick. God uses us like toys. And no wonder for nobody denies he treats many species of animals like toys. Are we the best toys God could make?

God if he is maker of all things must also look after all things. He must direct and control all things. As he gives us free will, it follows that if we use it we never use it against him though we can try to. Even when we curse him we do it not in spite of him but because he enables us to. So saying everything happens for a reason goes with belief in God. Some unthinking Christians say the saying is just a cliché and flippant. If the saying is rubbish then we see clearly that there is no real point in believing in God.

The saying suggests that you should not complain if somebody burns your house down. It is cold and unsympathetic.

It says God has the right to give a child horrendous suffering through cancer in order to test and spiritually improve her parents. Such a doctrine is cruel and says that the child does not really matter as long as the parents are made more spiritual or religious. Who cares as long as their character development is furthered?

If you cut your hand off when cutting wood, God permits it for a reason. Does this mean God wanted to smite your hand? Suppose God does evil for a purpose - remember a God of endless power letting evil take place is doing evil and is taking more responsibility for the evil than the doers of the evil can ever do. Wanting to give them a sense of responsibility cannot justify it. Also, if he does evil for a purpose then though he is all-good he might have to hate. Hate cannot be a sin if there is no other option to make a greater good. It would be strange to say God could have a reason to stand by and allow mass murder to happen but cannot hate even for a good reason. It's contradictory actually. If you need evil for a greater good that could be any form of evil. Yet people do not want to believe in a God who might have to hate people and be malicious for a greater good. They want to believe in a God who will do anything for the greater good but not that.

If we are more concerned about being loved and cared about than the greater good that shows we are selfish. It also shows that we need to be loved more than helped. If somebody loves us and cannot help us we can accept and rejoice in that. So what do we need God for?

Some people at least need to accept that the evil things that happened to them are useless and no good comes from them and any good that comes comes in spite of them. Then they can start trying to live with the wreckage and maybe even heal. Belief in God and his plan only hurts such people. It could be that ALL of us need to see evil as useless and purposeless though many of us do not realise it.

Some people admire the person who contort the terrible things that happened in life to imagine they happened for the sake of bringing about some greater good. They do not want to begrudge them their coping mechanism. But is it really the best coping mechanism? Can we not say the evil things are useless but what is admired how people brought good out of them not because of them but in spite of them? This denies any plan or purpose. It is clearly the most consoling. And it is not a mere coping mechanism for it is realistic and encouraging.

What if somebody feels they have a relationship with Jesus that sustains them and then through reading the Bible finds out that he is not a proper role model or comfort at all?

"Everything happens for a reason" goes with, "God never gives us more than we can handle. He never lets anything evil happen to us that can overwhelm us." We would not have any inclination to believe in God unless we believed in that.

To tell a person who feels suicidal that God never sends more than we can handle would be insensitive and brutally so. You say it indirectly to the person merely by becoming a servant of God. You say it in your life not your words. You would be best keeping away from the person. It would be a hideous thing to a person crippled by depression. Who are you to say that others cannot be overwhelmed and that God's help is always there? It is dogmatic for you cannot know everybody on earth well enough to argue that they could handle all their problems.

Love the sinner and hate the sin follows from the notion that God has given us free will and everything happens in order to help us to live better. Sin is trying to miss the mark and defeat the purpose but even it has a divine purpose. Love the sinner and hate the sin means you are taking it on you to decide that others have something that is getting between them and God. That is not your business. Love the sinner and hate the sin does not command love at all. It is love with a but. That is not love. It is a command as well so it tries to force you to love. Commands are about forcing. One who commands you to love wants you to obey and not to love. Love cannot be commanded except when it is love in name only. Instead suggesting that we must love the sinner and hate the sin we would simply suggest loving and keep considerations about sin out of it.

Our brains naturally work critically. Judgement is taking a person as good/righteous or bad/sinful. Some say that discernment is better. It asks, "Is what the person is doing better for me and/or themselves?" "How does what the person is doing align with what they want in life?" Calling a person a sinner is judgemental and vicious no matter how sweetly it is said.

"Everything happens for a reason" needs to be seen for the dangerous insult that it really is. Settling for this instead of asking, "Why?" would be lazy and irresponsible. You cannot just say something terrible happens for a reason - that is flippant. In other words, it is the kind of thing you cannot say unless you can justify it. Do not say that God can justify it and he has the answers. That is a cop-out. You are the one claiming there is a purpose so do not forget that.

People feel that everything happens for a reason and feel it strongly only when something has happened that they cannot control. They will feel it if a natural disaster happens. They will feel it less if is something they have a sense of control over. It might be losing their job for poor performance, their marriage breaking up or whatever.

If you think life is about making sense so that all that happens happens for a reason, what if you find out that this idea is nonsense? You become more likely to take revenge on yourself, or others or on a universe. What for? Because you think everything has broken its promise to send evil for a good reason.


"Everything happens for a reason" is the backbone of religions that pose as therapies such as progressive Christianity.  Sorry "Christianity".  It is literalism as in fundamentalist literalism. What is the point of condemning somebody for taking a harmful or illiberal religious text seriously or literally when they take this nonsense literally and seriously? It is worse than glorifying any text. It is glorifying the terrible things that happen to others while you are probably in your comfortable house polishing the communion silver. It has been noticed that religious and political literalism lead to violence easily and quickly in comparison to other causes such as poverty or social disadvantage.  Nobody blows themselves up as a political or religious martyr without thinking there is a reason for it.  Don't argue, "Not all take it that far."  It is not the point.  Asking that everybody be given a gun does not excuse your part in any harm that is done.  Your argument is a further insult.

"Everything has a reason" is a recipe for catastrophic disillusionment if not for you then for those who are influenced by you.


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