Why do bad things happen to good people -- a favorite rhetorical question of many. But is there an obvious answer?
To even ask the question assumes some sort of religious worldview because the underlying assumption is that there is a higher power watching over everything we do, say, and think. It assumes that, if we are “good” (if we live in accordance with our faith), we shall not be punished.
The safe, political, and obvious answer is that bad things happen to everyone. But I’m going to go a step further and argue instead that, the more an individual looks to faith, the more bad things happen to that individual. To put a twist on another favorite religious cliché, everything happens for a reason. I mean that literally – there is a good reason why so many bad things happen to “good people”.
The more religious a person becomes, the less he or she relies on the gifts nature has given us to navigate our existence. The extent to which one looks to faith is the extent to which one loses track of logic and common sense. When one spends his or her time attempting to define God, one loses sight of the reality that surrounds us. The extent to which one believes God is controlling our lives is the extent to which one believes we have no control of our own lives.
To rely on faith to navigate the sometimes overwhelming challenges of life is to navigate the highway, on cruise control, with your hands off the wheel…to drive in a way in which you are far more likely to crash.
It is really as simple as this: nature has given us (has evolved in us) an ability to minimize (though certainly not eliminate) negative consequence. The further we develop the potential of our minds, the more we can learn to anticipate the likely consequences of our actions and decisions. It, therefore, follows that when we further develop our potential as human beings, we are able to make better decisions and avoid more negative consequences.
Religion also tends to make people close-minded and fearful of new ideas and experiences. This leaves the faithful inexperienced and forced to fumble with things which open-minded people are intimately familiar with. It almost goes without saying that, when we are more open to life’s experiences and less fearful of them, we drastically improve our survival skills and; as a result, fewer bad things are likely to happen.
So it's not enough to be a good person. To avoid bad things happening to us, we need to become more rational, experienced, and intelligent.