How much power do humans have in this world? Well, it depends on your beliefs and worldview. This is my attempt at sharing my musings on this subject.
From what I’ve observed, here are two beliefs from opposite sides of the spectrum.
Group One: People have the power to change the world through fighting for social justice, cleaning up the environment, and can achieve anything by believing in themselves. It’s through this concerted effort to transform the world into a nonviolent, loving place to live that they believe can truly happen on earth. They don’t need a higher being/God to do this. They just have to desire it and take action to achieve it.
Group Two: No one has any power of his/her own. They go through life relying on God to design their lives, and as long as they follow God’s designs for them, their lives will be good and spared hardships.
Neither of these takes into account natural disasters, wars, sickness, famine, etc. You know the litany of problems people face on this earth. If I add this issue and question the two groups, here’s how they might see this:
Group One: Just about everything can be fixed if humans will just do the right thing mentioned earlier. The natural disasters can be lessened if we took care of our environment and quit using toxic chemicals, relied on clean energy, etc. Wars and famine and sickness would stop because people would unite for the common welfare of all. If enough people do this, we can finally live in peace and love.
Group Two: Things happen for a reason, and that reason is God’s punishing those people who sin and will feel the wrath of God in the destructive winds of the tornado or in the drowning waters of a powerful tsunami. God’s Hand is in all of these actions to make us repent. BUT . . . natural disasters can also just be earth doing its thing, too, because there’s no such thing as climate change.
Let’s factor in the whole subject of suffering and dying in whatever capacity. Group One would probably see these as cruel, senseless events caused by lack of education, equality, love, and action on our part to stop them from happening. But sometimes, they have no real answers because death is a part of life. Group Two might respond that it was those people’s time to leave this world. If they’re asked, “What about victims of a massacre or individual murder?” Generally, they don’t have an answer, and for the most part, they’ll be honest and say they don’t.
Then there are the people who fall in the middle who believe disasters and suffering are sometimes of God and other times just nature doing its thing, like the earth’s natural cooling and warming.
Do people have much power to do anything about these catastrophes in the world? I believe there is nature doing its thing and us doing ours and sometimes they are intertwined.
It all starts and stems from where life began—in the Garden when Adam and Eve were created, whether a representation of humanity, or truly a male named Adam and a female named Eve. God gave us free will. It is a loving and crucial gift for us that gives us the ability to reason and make decisions on everything in our lives, including whether to love or reject God. It is my understanding and belief this was the main purpose God gave us free will—for us to freely choose to love Him or not.
God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit represents Love, Peace, and Relationship. God wants a relationship with us. We are not robots or marionettes to which He pulls strings or programs us to act or do something every moment of our lives. No, we have the freedom to choose just about everything in our lives except choosing to not die. We all will. We have to go through this because of the consequences of sin and death that entered the world that is known as the Fall.
I believe whatever a person does, good or bad (in the sense we humans understand good and bad), it affects all the world and universe. I liken it to the example used in the chaos theory of the butterfly that flaps its wings, and that act of flapping its wings reverberates and echoes through the cosmos, affecting all things in it. Therefore, when a person does something bad, such as kill someone, this is felt throughout the universe.
There is no utopia on earth because earth isn’t God’s Kingdom, as Christians and most non-Christians know. Adam and Eve fell into the temptation of wanting to be just like God, and through pride (arrogance) and disobedience, that caused everything to change for humanity and all of God’s creation. Making a decision seems to have a lot of power to change the world, doesn’t it?
When humanity sinned, it took the creatures and plants and all down with it to earth, separating all from God’s closeness and grace. This separation was reconciled through Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.
Getting back to the issues of suffering, wars, and killings. It is my belief that this all springs from two things:
- Free Will
- The Fall
Therefore, killings/murders, wars, and whatever things happen in our daily lives are a result of the choices we make good or bad, through God’s gift of free will. We choose to steal that coat at the department store, shoot and kill people, eat more than our stomach can hold (gluttony), be mean to the person ahead of us in line at the supermarket, etc. We choose to start wars because of our greed and desire for power over others, anger, etc.
Having said all of that, this does not include people suffering from mental illness because the chemical balance is off in their brains, and unless they’re being treated effectively by psychiatric medications, their brains aren’t functioning correctly.
God cannot impede on our free will. Father Tom Hopko used to say this in many of his podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio, for which I’ve listened to several.
Then there are the dilemmas of natural disasters, sickness, and famine. Two reasons:
- All of humanity is spiritually ill in need of healing, which for me, is found through Jesus Christ, so that we can be made whole and healthy again as we first were made to be.
- We live in a broken, fallen world.
Remember the butterfly example from the chaos theory? Think of that butterfly as a person, and that person does something that separates him/her from God–misses the mark, sins–that sin reverberates through the cosmos because humanity is the conduit between the material and spiritual worlds. Likewise, if the person does something holy/good, such as loving his/her enemy, or giving food to a starving person, this, too, spreads throughout the universe.
So, if you look at the world from this perspective, you can see through free will, humans do have a great deal of power, and what we are able to do in this fallen world is a result of what we choose to do daily that sends the waves of holiness or sinfulness throughout all existence in the cosmos.