An article was published on Yahoo's website today about a survey on American religious attitudes. The article begins by stating that "most Americans believe God is involved in their everyday lives and concerned with their personal well-being."
Four highlights were mentioned in the study:
- 82 percent of participants reported that they depend on God for help and guidance in making decisions.
- 71 percent said they believe that when good or bad things happen, these occurrences are simply part of God's plan for them.
- 61 percent indicated they believe God has determined the direction and course of their lives.
- 32 percent agreed with the statement: "There is no sense in planning a lot because ultimately my fate is in God's hands."
The first one, though, is more interesting. Maybe it is the old Quaker mystic in me, or maybe it is the influence of process theology in my thinking, but in any case, even as I reject the idea of divine omnipotence, the idea that the Divine is in some sense "speaking" to us is not a concept that I have a problem with. I think that many people, when they describe divine intervention, may tend to conflate omnipotent coercion with divine communication and describe both of those as "divine intervention". But in my view, they are quite different activities. "Speaking" to us, or offering us possibilities, or luring us towards greater creative and loving possibilities--that represents one way of describing the expression of divine activity in the world. But to say that God is actively involved in the world is not the same as saying that God coercively intervenes, or has some "plan" that ensures that everything will work out a certain way. The former describes the creative and open-ended potential of the universe; the latter describes an omnipotent force that controls the universe. I lean towards the first; I do not accept the idea of the latter.