True story: Sally’s car breaks down on the way to a job interview. Instead of rescheduling the interview, Sally cancels, taking it as a sign from her angels that she was not meant to take this job.
Depending on your spiritual beliefs and education background you will either find that to be (a) inspirational and intuitive; (b) an example of the Law of Attraction; or (c) tragic. I vote for (c), tragic. She might have missed out on her dream job because of this.
Sure it COULD have been divine intervention, but it’s much more likely to be either a coincidence, or if you don’t believe in them, then it was her unconscious fear of success sabotaging her interview. It’s MUCH more likely to be her fear of how amazing the job would be, rather than a sign that she shouldn’t apply for it. Yet people, especially “New Agers” make these type of decisions every single day, often with life-changing consequences.
Every day people tell me stories which seem incredibly meaningful to them, but which in reality confuse fear, gut instinct or coincidence with magical intervention.
Today I hope to do some real service to the New Age community by clearing up the misconception between Divine Intervention and the Law of Attraction (LOA).
To set the scene, here are more true examples:
- John tried to pay for a course online but there was a failure with the PayPal button and he couldn’t pay for several days. John takes it as a sign from Above that he is not meant to do this course; [We get this a lot – mainly thanks to PayPal being so error prone! Then again PayPal saved us from an earthquake in Japan right?]
- Martin applied to get into Dentistry in a year that the South African universities implemented a black empowerment program. He was not accepted (but would have been in any other year). He took this as divine intervention that God didn’t want him to be a dentist. He became an engineer and remains miserable to this day. [If it was Divine Intervention then he was divinely screwed over.]
- On her wedding day, Jane is delighted to see beautiful clear skies, perfect weather. She has prayed for this as a sign that the marriage will be favored and that they will be blessed with many children;
- Sue was taking a spiritual healing course and just as the teacher was saying something really important the sun broke through the clouds and lit up precisely where the teacher was standing. This was clearly an act of divine intervention meaning the teacher was speaking a higher Truth;
- Sandra has an appointment with a practitioner to work on clearing trauma. Due to a mis-communication about times she misses the appointment. Sue takes this as a sign that she shouldn’t work with this practitioner (or modality).
- Chris’ grandmother recalls how a lava flow destroyed many houses but was diverted before it destroyed her Catholic Church. It’s a miracle! What bugged us about this version of it was that the priest declaring the miracle conveniently forgot all the houses that were destroyed and people who died. If “My God” was going to intervene it would be to spare a child, not a building.
What all these stories have in common is called “magical thinking.” People (often those who should know better) confuse correlation (things happening at the same time) with causation (things happening for a reason).
Another way to put it is to say that there is a general New Age misconception that basically says “I can’t explain how this happened, therefore it must be the work of a Greater Being.”
In philosophy we call this an Argument From Ignorance and I’ll be writing more about this subject soon.
A classic example of this on my blog a few weeks ago was a comment from reader Kim in relation to Divine Intervention. She said:
My husband also has beliefs very close to mine–I’m not sure I could have found him on my own, and I’m not sure I did. …
Of course, I tried not to choose my husband–but I was over-ruled. I have also been hit by debilitating physical symptoms … when I wanted to do something that was deemed in some way dangerous or inadvisable to me by my guides. As soon as my window of opportunity closed, the pain evaporated. I would call that intervention.
I would call this the “classic New Age” view. Kim thinks that she couldn’t have manifested her husband on her own; there must have been help. She also thinks that it’s her guides giving her gut instincts (pain relating to decisions) rather than just her own body mind/gut. (I wrote an article about gut instincts recently – “Are Gut Feelings Misleading”?
But what do you think? Is there a divine helping hand upstairs guiding Kim towards the right husband and the right decisions, or is it just Kim, attracting and manifesting and listening to her gut, as we all do all day long?
Tomorrow I will continue with my thoughts about Divine Intervention and I’ll propose a test that you can use to discern the difference between Divine Intervention and LOA.
For now over to you – what do you think?
Do you have any examples of magical thinking in divine intervention that would complement the list above? If so please share them here!
Blessings of non-divine intervention,
(Click here to continue to Part 2 – but don’t forget to leave a comment below.)