Wednesday, April 25, 2007


3:58 PM Posted by: M., 8 comments

today is a shitty day--nothing special

but i was thinking about something. i went to a shoe store to buy a pair of shoes for my friend's wedding this weekend. i found a perfect pair of shoes--perfect color, everything for my dress (my dress is not easy at all to find shoes for) and so I was excited. but then all they had in stock was the shoe 2 sizes too big for me--and too big to try to pull off. So I kept looking around the store for other boxes to see if someone had just misplaced my size. 25 minutes later, I walked out of the store with a different pair of shoes (that i since found will not work). Okay--this is no big news, not interesting, etc....but I wonder, I just really wonder, what if I "miraculously" found a pair in my size? behind some boxes or on the floor? What if?! Would THAT have been God looking out for me? If that happened, the former Christian me would have thanked God and told my friends about it how God provided and it was so cool because just when I was feeling frustrated, God revelealed the magical shoebox in the corner of my eye like the golden ticket in Willy Wonka.

Well, he sure didnt provide today.

I just think of all those petty little situations that we think God has a hand in--we ignore so many mundane, shiteous things--to me, that proves the existence of "coincidence"... not God.


Ed Lynam said...

I was just reading "Lourdes, A modern pilgrimage" by Patrick Marnham. In it, there is a fascinating story of Madame Coutrault from Pointier, France. She began suffering from multiple sclerosis at age 32, with severe progression over the next three years. She was unable to walk, feed herself, dress herself, speak clearly. She took the trip to Lourdes and participated in the procession. As she took communion, she felt herself being healed. Three days later, her husband, a non-believer was waiting on the platform at the train station, ready to have her carried back home. When the pilgrim train pulled up, he was puzzled that no one on a stretcher was being carried off the train. Then he spotted a small figure climbing down from a coach at the end of the platform. The person ran toward him, arms outstretched. By the time Madame Coultrault reached her husband, he was unconcious on the platform. It was he who needed to be carried home that day.

Did Madame Coultrault experience a spontaneous remission and unusually rapid recovery of atrophied muscles? If so, was it just a coincidence it happened at a pilgrimage site at the time of communion, a religious practice that honors the Christian God? After all, there was no signature written on her belly "Jesus the Christ" to verify the author of her recovery.

I think when Christians try to link coincidence with God's acts, all they are doing is acting upon their worldview. They see God as an actor in their lives, and so they attribute the "good" things to him. But they do not attribute the "bad" things to him. Was Madame Coultrault's multiple sclerosis a result of the action of a sovereign God? Was the man born blind because of his sin or his parents? Neither, but that the glory of God be shown. So, whether we like it or not, Christians will keep on attributing the good coincidences of life to God. But that makes him no less or no more real.

exapologist said...

I tend to worry about those pesky scientific studies of prayer. I'm thinking especially of the last big one, where it was concluded that prayer made no positive difference in this double-blind experiment.

Any thoughts about how to interpret the data in this study?


Ed Lynam said...

Hey, EA,
Don't worry about those studies, they aren't set up correctly. If we wanted to set up a way to detect a message from extraterrestrial beings, would it be wise to study 100 signals from space? 1000? 10000? 100000? No way. But, if you look at a vast multitude of signals, and you get one that has unmistakable qualities of intelligent origin, then hoo-boy, you've got a great lead. Then, if you get 66 more of the same kind over the next 150 years, you've got pretty convincing confirmation.

So, I'd say negative studies on prayer prove that if a diety exists, it is not in the habit of commonly violating the laws of nature at the whim of mortals. Just as I'd say the lack of Romulan television and Borg rock-and-roll from the cosmos indicates that vast numbers of broadcasting aliens aren't all around our vicinity, but doesn't disprove their existence.

The website for Lourdes is if you want to read more.

exapologist said...

Thanks for your nice comments, Ed. Thanks also for that intriguing link!

I agree with you about what any such study could show. In particular, I certainly agree that no such study could show that God doesn't exist. Its findings could only have bearing on certain sorts of *activity* of a deity or deities (and even there, not on their activity in general, but rather only on their response to prayer (or certain sorts of prayer, anyway), not its/their *existence*.



Jon said...

I have noticed too that Christians are quick to attribute 'good' coincidences to God, and just not worry too much about the 'other' coincidences. It borders on being a form of superstition. I have personally had some most amazing 'coincidences' that you would really think the forces of the universe were conspiring against meto cause me to do a certain thing - trouble is the Bible definition of tat act was sin! (Sorry - can't be too specific) Anyway, I'm with you on this one - stuff just happens.

Greg said...

I wonder if God might actually be on your side in much of what you write? Being suspicious of such trivia as shoes and sizes being of God, may be godly.

Heather said...

**Being suspicious of such trivia as shoes and sizes being of God, may be godly.** This is one thing that has always bothered me about certain expressions of Christianity -- I always cringe when I see someone say, "God guided me to that parking spot," "God gave me the perfect prom!" "God made it be sunny for our baseball game!"

Then I start looking at the Beatitudes and just keep cringing.

Greg said...

Indeed. Seems like people who claim such things are focused more on themselves than God. Your suspicion of such expressions of Christianity is warranted, and cringing may actually be more godly than pretending that God is going to make it all okay.