The idea of God's plan is sometimes raised to explain bizarre or tragic events. It is a common theodicy for the problem of evil.
- "Christians believe that the whole of our lives fall within God's plan. Sometimes we do not understand why things happen the way they do, and it is right to struggle with God when we are hurting. We also believe that God's loving purposes extend into eternity. Human lives are part of a bigger picture of which only he is fully aware."
"I think when it comes down to it, Trump may have been the only candidate who could actually defeat Hillary. It very likely could be. I'll tell you what I kept thinking too, Jan, was the book of Daniel. The essence of the book is that the most high God lifts up who He will and takes down who He will."
- — Michele Bachmann
Since any state of affairs can be described as "part of God's plan", it does not actually explain anything. An explanation should provide a mental model of what can and can't happen.
Not reliably knowable
Many people claim to know what God's plan entails but they disagree about it. There is no way to determine who is right and wrong. God's plan is seemingly unknowable.
- "Scripture makes it abundantly clear that there is a plan."
- "God’s plan for creation is a good plan. The goal for which it was instituted is of the highest good. It is good in a functional sense, because the plan is certain to work, producing the ends for which it was ordained. Ultimately, it is good because it is God’s plan."
This suffers from the Euthyphro dilemma: is the plan good because good exists independently of God or is it good just because God happens to will it?
A plan implies determinism
- "God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass."
Knowing the presumably good outcome of the plan, God could create the universe in that state and skip the presumably inferior parts.
Did God always intend to have Adam and Eve be expelled from heaven? Since everything is "God's plan", this too must have been part of it. This seems the work of a non-benevolent God.
Belief in God's plan encourages fatalistic thinking.
- "The goal of God’s plan is to bring glory to Himself."
This makes God seem rather vain. The entire universe is intended as an exercise of having people worship him. Who is God trying to impress? His own creations?
Does not prevent natural evil
- Main Article: Argument from poor design
God's plan was not good enough to prevent excessive suffering, natural evil, etc.
Bad planning by God in the Bible
The Bible depicts a God with poor planning skills:
- why kill nearly everyone in a great flood when humans are just the same after the event?
- why wait to provide the Ten commandments? why not provide this before the first murder occurred?
- no explicit mention of Jesus in the Old Testament.
- The New Testament abrogates many aspects of Old Testament morality e.g. "turn the other cheek" instead of an "eye for an eye"
- inventing a bizarre loophole, salvation, to get around his own moral code
- the Bible fails to address contemporary issues
- Jesus makes a failed prophecy about the end of the world
- God allows people to settle in the Promised land, then has to order their extermination
God's plan should not be questioned
Some apologists claim that God's plan should not be questioned, including his choice of political leaders. In Christianity, Romans 13:1 says "all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God." This attitude is dangerous in a democratic system because it prevents examination and discussion of the actions and policies of elected leaders.