Sometimes I wonder what God will find more amusing: That man persecutes man, or that man does it in the name of "God"? I can say with certainty that Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and even Tom Cruise have less people speaking on their behalves as God does. God has more publicists than Hollywood, and everyone believes he or she knows what God wants as well as which actions on Earth for which he is responsible. The truth is, since man has believed in God, man has spoken on God's behalf and linked God with everything from rain to disease, to solid harvests, and even music albums and Super Bowl victories.
History is flooded with examples of "God's will," or at least what was suspected to be His will. Though God has had many self-proclaimed representatives on Earth, the Pope is the one that seems most generally accepted, especially when it comes to Catholics. With recognition of being God's chosen representative on Earth, one would think that someone would truly exploit that power for his own political gains... and it has happened.
Being Catholic myself, I took a newfound interest in the church when I took my first theology course at Rutgers. When I found out that, in the past, the activities that took place in Vatican City closely resembled those of a fraternity and not the religious and spiritual center that I previously believed, I actually felt better about my Catholic upbringing. The Crusades are the perfect example of how someone can take advantage of his religious position to increase the reach of a church on the world stage and regain territorial losses... all in the name of God, of course.
European history has more examples of people assuming they know God's will more so than the rest of the world, because its history is far more extensive. From burning Jews at the stake in the 14th century because they believed that they were responsible for the Black Plague, to Kings and Queens sincerely believing that they were chosen by God Himself to rule (which is known as Divine Right), human beings have always claimed (and, most of the time, very foolishly) to know what God wants and what He has done on this Earth. Though the Europeans' ignorant beliefs and justification for God's behavior and wishes are full of blood and stupidity, America didn't waste much time in assuming its role as the Earth's interpreter for God's actions.
In America, the natives practiced sacrificial rituals which they believed appeased the gods. So, even before Europeans reached the western hemisphere, people were already attempting to do what they believed God wanted. Within weeks of the first colonists landing in America, they had no doubts that God wanted them to conquer the new and bountiful land once the native people began to drop dead from disease. The colonists, and even the natives, never had a doubt that it was God's will and he was wiping out a people so the "chosen" group could enjoy the fruits of the new land. In all honesty, we can't really blame them since medical practices of the time still included leeching and draining blood, and they were not aware of the real causes of disease which tended to stem, not from God, but from exposure to domesticated animals. So, I will give the colonists a mulligan on that one, but it didn't deter individuals from speaking on God's behalf.
From the American Revolution to the Civil War, each side involved in every battle sincerely believed that they were fulfilling God's will and wishes and, during the times, it did make sense and could have been justified. Abraham Lincoln once again showed his brilliance in a simple quote. When Lincoln was told that God was surely on the side of the Union and not the Confederacy, he replied "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." But, I can say with certainty that in every single war fought, in every country, many have claimed and even attempted to justify that God is certainly on their side in order to make them feel the murder and killing taking place was justified. I often point out the irony to my students that, if you kill in your name, you're a murderer. However, if you kill in the name of your country or God, you're a hero.
People continue to claim that they know what God wants and in what God was involved. From AIDS, which many ignorant people believe is God's will against homosexuals (which is much more foolish than the colonists, because we now know about disease), to New York Giants fans who sincerely believe that God had some involvement with their Super Bowl victory over the Patriots, human beings will always claim to know what God wants. I am by no means an atheist nor am I questioning the existence of God; I am merely stating the logical: that I can never know what God's will is or what He truly wants, but I do know that He must cringe when individuals have attempted to represent Him throughout history, and into the present.
Ignorance has caused more harm than God's will ever has, and only the foolish truly believe that God actually wants one army to defeat another, favors one team over another, or gives a group of people He created a disease because he disagrees with their lifestyle. And, for all those who believe that God favors one athlete over another, it's safe to assume that God favors Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Eli Manning much more than he favors Tim Tebow, and the evidence is in their passer ratings and Super Bowl rings.
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