Continuing the discussion from Rana on Covid and mRNA vaccines:
Here’s an analogy which may be helpful. Note that I present this analogy not to argue to you that it is true, but merely to try to impart an approximation of how Christians and many other religious people understand “how things are”. I just want to explain a vague idea of what we mean when we refer to God’s providence, even if that belief seems irrational.
Again, this is a thought experiment. As much as possible, I’m going to ignore any replies of “where is the evidence for this” or “this is unfalsifiable”. That would miss the point.
God sustains, powers, and runs the universe. If this universe is “the Matrix”, then God, the Creator, provides the power to uphold the simulation and sets the rules for how things work in it, including occasional interventions if needed.
Now let’s posit that the Creator doesn’t just run the Matrix for fun. He wants it to evolve towards a particular state of things. He sets certain limits and bounds on how it can evolve (e.g. gravity exists with a certain strength, biological evolution occurs according to certain principles, etc.). These are called the “rules” of the simulation. He can also intervene and momentarily suspend the regular rules if he wants.
Continuing this analogy, we humans are agents who are both part of the simulation and living in the world of the simulation. We have been given powers to be able to investigate and figure out some rules of the simulation, and take advantage of them for our own benefit. This is what we call “science”. However, because of our limited abilities, we do not know all the rules. Even if we can figure out most of the rules, we can’t predict when or if the Creator is going to suspend them. It might even be the case that once we figure out what the Creator is likely to do, he might change his mind, just to teach us not to do that. The point is that the Creator has both
- A much, much greater mind and imagination than any number of human beings
- A “God’s-eye view” of the situation where he is aware of all of the rules and all possible consequences of any hypothetical event occurring in the universe.
Therefore, we humans also cannot completely and accurately predict the final state of the universe. Given the rules that we already know, we can make some predictions. But these rules are merely a small subset of all the rules, and furthermore, the Creator might suddenly suspend the rules. For example, it could be that for t<20 the set of rules is S, but then at t =20 God suddenly changes S in a major way to S'. This makes any human prediction made during t<20 about the state of the universe at t> 20 (assuming S) grossly inaccurate.
Now, it is also the case that the Creator has dropped a message M in the universe about a certain coming cataclysmic event which will happen at a certain t=T. The message is not very informative, but what it says can be summarized into the following:
- Starting at t = T, the rules of the simulation will be changed from what they are now, S, to S', something very different.
- This will result in perfect bliss for humans who believe that 1) is going to happen and adjust their current lives according to a certain set of regulations R.
- The exact time T is not going to be revealed, but it is “close”. Any attempts to predict T will necessarily fail.
- Meanwhile, those who believe in this message and practice R will also receive some in-simulation benefits B even before t = T happens. While the full nature and extent of these benefits are unknown, one of them is a special link with the Creator himself, a glimpse of the bliss to come at t = T.
There is some evidence within the world of the simulation that the message M is genuine, true, and actually coming from the Creator. However, this evidence isn’t very conclusive, nor convincing to everyone. Furthermore, even those who believe in M can’t explain what exactly is the difference between S and S'. Nor can they exhaustively prove that B is real - their claimed “special link” to the Creator may turn out to be an illusion. As a result, many reject M and make fun of those who accept it. There is also much debate about what R is, as well people who endorse M' - a very different version of M.
Nevertheless, these believers both believe that M is true and that B really happens in their lives. They attribute special events and fortuitous coincidences happening in the world as part of B, because these things seem to lead them closer towards that aforementioned “perfect bliss”. These acts of attribution lead them to greater zeal in practicing R, further confirmation that M is true, and an impetus to persuade others of M. They call this signs of the “providence” of the Creator in preparing and moving the universe into the event at t = T.
However, because believers are still human, knowing neither the “full set of rules” nor the Creator’s future interventions, they also do not know exactly how “providence” works. Providence may consist of “special interventions” where the Creator suspends the rules of the simulations or it could be baked into the rules themselves. Or it could be both. The point is, “providence” is a personal expression of trust and belief that the message M is true, the Creator is working behind the scenes to make the great event at t = T happen, and that some events in the simulation seem to be especially indicative of M.