Did G-d Do It?

In Genesis 45:5, Joseph tells his brother, don’t be distressed for selling me as a slave, for it was G-d who sent me ahead of you to provide.

In a 1995 lecture on this, Dennis Prager says: Joseph says it was not you who sent me here but G-d. G-d’s hand is in all of it.

If G-d did it, what responsibility do the brothers have for having done it? Are they guilty at all?

I don’t have a beautiful answer for you. Did G-d do it or the brothers or some melange of the two? G-d wanted Joseph in Egypt.

I never had a problem with the concept that G-d knows the future and we have free will. I can drive down the freeway and see the traffic is stopped in the opposite direction by an accident. So I know that all the drivers coming up to the accident will soon be stopped. They have free will but I know their future in this respect.

If I were in the medieval Christian world as a Jew, and they were all yelling at me for being a Christ-killer, I would’ve said, it wouldn’t have helped, they would’ve just gotten angrier, but I would’ve said that on purely logical grounds, blame me all you like, but if the Jews didn’t kill him, you would have no religion. Because G-d sent his only son by classical Christian theology to be killed. If he had died in a nursing home, this story would be very different. You don’t die for people’s sins in your sleep. You die for people’s sins by being killed by bad people sinning.

Secular life has its own arguments against free will — genes, environment, parents, health. A purely secular view of humanity argues that you have no freedom.

Only if you believe in G-d, can you believe that humans have free will.

I don’t believe that everything we do is because of genes and environment.

The more secular the society, the less people are likely to blame criminals. If all we are is genes and environment, then it is not right to blame a rapist. It is not right to blame a murderer.

It is the more religious in society who are the most advocative of punishing criminals.

A religious person in Judeo-Christian culture tends to hold that people are responsible for their behavior.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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