Feb 3, 2012

It's all part of the plan

I was recently pondering the philosophy of The Joker in Batman. In
"The Dark Knight", he has a monologue about what people feel is
socially acceptable and what not. When he's discussing this with
Harvey Dent (Two-Face), he says this:

I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on
itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a
couple of bullets. Hmmm? You know... You know what I've noticed?
Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is
horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger
will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody
panics, because it's all "part of the plan". But when I say that one
little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

I wonder if this is hitting the nail on the head when it comes to
people's beliefs in a "divine plan". "Even if the plan is horrifying"
people are more psychologically able to deal with it. Even if there
are tsunamis, earthquakes, deaths from childhood leukemia, wealth
imbalances, etc, people are okay with all of that so long as they
think there's some "plan" behind it. Perhaps it's simply human nature
to desperately want there to be a plan, and as such are so "at peace"
with themselves when they think there is one, that they essentially
convince themselves it must be true in order to psychologically
"survive". It also would explain their complete and utter bewilderment
at how atheists can wake up in the morning and be productive members
of society if the atheists think that eventually they'll permanently
lose consciousness.

Of course, this says nothing about whether there really IS a plan,
just the human need to think that there is one. Have theists
considered that they may be looking for a plan just to help themselves
cope with existence?


Staid Winnow said...

If you have been under anesthesia that knocked you out for surgery, you have probably the closest experience of death. From the time I was under to when I woke up, I felt exactly the same way as I did before I was born.

I'd like for there to be a plan, too. A billion dollars would be nicer

Bretta said...

I had a treasured friend, who, along with her husband, was killed by a rogue bear in the arctic wilderness of Alaska. She had much wilderness and wildlife experience, first as a ranger then as an elementary school teacher.

I could have comprehended one or the other being killed, but not both together, at the same time, by a bear. They had done everything right in their camp. They had pepper spray and a gun. It didn't make sense.

Now I must say, I knew these people from when I used to attend church. The way I explained the horror of their demise to myself was "God did not want either one of them to suffer widowhood so he came as a bear and took them both together."

Hopelessly romantic, I know, but it makes your thesis ring true to me, because I could imagine "a plan" to explain the chance of being in the wrong place when the bear took umbrage.

Now that I no longer believe, I am re-thinking how I felt, how I would explain that tragedy it to myself.

I think now I would just call it bad luck then let myself have my grief.

rappoccio said...

Sorry to hear about your friends Bretta. I have had similar "rethinkings" after my deconversion. My wife had a miscarriage early in our marriage (actually the fetus was in the blastocyst stage and attempted to split into twins, but instead of 50/50 split of the DNA, it went 25/75 and so the fetus was never viable to begin with).

At the time I was very spiritual about it, being a very devout Catholic. Three weeks later, our dog died by being hit by a train, and we romanticized that he was keeping our "twins" company in heaven.

It was certainly nice to think about that, but now that I have an atheistic outlook, the first was a very common spontaneous abortion (which happens in 25% of pregnancies!) and thirty years ago my wife wouldn't have even known she was pregnant, it was so early. The second case was just bad luck and a shitty coincidence.

I find myself behaving differently now that I'm not a theist when it comes to death. Beforehand, if an elderly relative was in hospice or something, we would wait until they died before traveling to go to the wake/funeral. Then I realized, what a stupid thing to do! The person is already dead to begin with! So I made it a point to start traveling before the end came near, and say my goodbyes to my loved one (if they were conscious) or start the grieving process (if they weren't).