The Power of Coincidence

The bible says a lot about prayer.  We look to the Bible and find that Jesus makes a number of specific and remarkable promises having to do with prayer. Matthew 7:7 Jesus says promises that if we ask it will be given to us. Later on in Matthew, Jesus tells us that having faith as a grain of mustard seed will move mountains. A little further on is a story about a mountain throwing itself into the sea. Mark 11:24 tells us that whatever we ask for in prayer, all we need to to is believe that we have received it, and it is ours, which, incidentally, is the basis for the ‘name it and claim it’ beliefs of those who follow the ‘prosperity gospel’.

An examination of the fourth chapter in John describes how easy prayer is.  There, Jesus tells us that whatever we ask for in his name he will do, specifically to show that his father really exists.

God a medical problem?  Then the book of James is for you.  In Chapter five it plainly states that a prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well and that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

The message appears to be very clear that god answers prayer.  All things are possible. Nothing is impossible through prayer, etc., etc. Of course, turning on the news will reveal the reality of contradiction that can be statistically proven. Study after study has shown that prayer has no supernatural effect on anything, and some studies have even shown a reverse effect in medical conditions due to the sick Christian being stressed out over performance anxiety.

When Christians talk about “the power of prayer”, what we are actually witnessing is “the power of coincidence.” The fact that god does not answer prayers is something that should be apparent to everyone with what the evidence of what the world around us looks like.

If Christians wanted to make the world a better place then perhaps the millions and millions of dollars that are spent every year in inspirational literature should be spent on humanitarian charities.

The reason why Christians cling to prayer so strongly is because if they acknowledged that it is all coincidence it would be contrariwise to the way Christianity is constructed.  Otherwise they would have to conclude that the bible is not the word of god but a collection of local lore written by fallible men from a primitive culture and that it is irrelevant and quite possibly that god does not exist at all. Obviously, this is impossible to believe while still claiming to be a Christian or the entire faith is is just a bunch of myths and superstitions.

The only problem is that, when broken down, the claim that god answers prayer is contrary to reality.

Say, for example, someone locks themselves out of their apartment.  They utter a prayer for help and a few minutes later the super shows up.  Normally, this would be viewed as a coincidence.  Not to the praying Christian, though.  According to them, it was the hand of god that made the super show up just at that moment to unlock their door.

However, consider that everywhere around the world there are people praying to god not to starve to death or die of diseases in third world countries that can be cured with aspirin, not to lose their jobs, etc., etc.

God ignores all of these sincere prayers to reach down and send an apartment manager to unlock the door of an inconvenienced resident? Does that really make sense to people, that god would have such an intimate relationship with someone that he would solve some trivial problem, yet ignore the millions of others who are genuinely suffering?

And what about those millions of suffering people?  Is it not part of “god’s plan” to help them? Was it the plan of a loving god who counts the hairs on your head to allow six million people die during the Holocaust?   Is it the plan of a loving god to ignore the prayers of the woman who is left to die after being raped and tortured?

Let me guess. They were not praying properly?  They were not “true Christians”?  Or, is it the debbil!

The Christian perspective becomes unhinged to the rational mind on multiple levels, but it seems to be the only way for the Christian to maintain the illusion that God exists and that God wrote the Bible.  The fact is, God cannot be hearing and answering the prayer of the person locked out of their home while at the same time ignoring all the death, destruction, starvation and deprivation that we see in our world every day.

Coincidences, even remarkable ones, happen all the time. The “power of prayer” should actually be called the “Power of Coincidence” The dictionary defines the word “coincidence”  as a sequence of events that although accidental, seems to have been planned or arranged.

“Answered prayers” are always coincidences, nothing more. The easy way to see that is to count unanswered prayers along with answered prayers and analyse the statistics. As soon as you do the statistical analysis you unmask the illusion of prayer.  If you pick out ten trivial things in your life to pray about on Monday, some of them will get answered and some would not.  On Tuesday, if you don’t pray at all, you would see pretty much the same ratio of answered prayers. This is because the act of praying does not change the outcome.

It’s like the old adage about the pot of coffee. If the coffee is great, the chef is complimented.  If it tastes like a skid mark, then the pot gets the blame. Christians handle coincidences in a similar fashion. If something nice happens, they attribute it to god answering a prayer and that he is looking out for them. If the prayer is not answered, or if something bad happens – like the loss of a child or spouse – then it becomes part of “God’s plan”, who’s “ways are higher”, etc…

Of course, these are nothing more than random events caused by any number of actions or reactions because god is an imaginary being and, thus, has nothing to do with any of them.  Just as walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror, crossing a black cat, it is superstition, but on a massive scale. Statistics prove that a broken mirror has zero effect on your life. In the same way, statistics prove that God never answers prayers. A Christian can go for a month without uttering one, single prayer and they will find that nothing will change because prayer is an irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.

The belief that what Jesus says in the Bible about prayer is true, that god is perfect and the Bible is the perfect word of god and that faith can move a mountain, that nothing will be impossible for you and that Jesus will do anything that you ask in his name flies in the face of the facts about the world around us shows that it is quite obvious that God does not answer prayers.  When a Christian says, “God answered my prayers,” what he or she means is that a coincidence happened.

The contortion of logic that is required to equalize the belief that that god will answer prayer according to the bible because it is impossible for a perfect god to lie against the millions and millions of unanswered prayers of the dire and suffering is stupendous.  The Christian who’s prayers, even sincere ones, that are not answered ends up having to think up a plethora of excuses why those prayers were not answered. It is not his will, not part of his plan, the prayer is too big, too obvious, The Lord works in mysterious ways, it’ll be answered at a later time, you are not sincere enough. blah, blah, blah….

Either you really believe that any of these excuses are true or god does not answer prayer because he does not exist.  If you believe that these are valid excuses then you are stuck in an ecclesiastical relationship with a cosmic consummate liar. The plain truth is that every “answered prayer” is nothing more than a coincidence and can be proven so through common sense and statistics.

The assertion is that God does not answer prayers is totally compatible with common sense and everyday experiences.  It meshes perfectly with all of the evidence that we see in our world. It means that humans need to solve the problems of the world. Instead of praying to God to solve world hunger, we need to work toward a solution to world hunger ourselves. God is not going to do a thing about it.

It is time to recognize that there is not a god in heaven who is looking down onto earth and answering the prayers of Christians. We can see it, undeniably, using both common sense and statistics. In the same way that the pyramids of the Egyptians were pointless, and the Roman temples were pointless, and the human sacrifices of the Aztecs were pointless, praying to God is pointless. You might as well be talking to your favorite stuffed animal.

Those “intuitions” that we all get that something bad is about to happen and we avert it by changing something is also not god intervening.  Human intuition has been well documented and avoiding disaster by reacting to it is not god intervening, but a form of superstition guided by evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology.

Avoiding a disaster due to intuitive change can also be a coincidence.  Someone may have gotten the “feeling” that if they continued down a certain route it would end up in a fatal accident.  So, they change their route only to find out that there would have been just such an accident had they been in that very place at that very time, and god is thanked for steering them away from it.

Of course, god totally ignored thousands of other people, such as the story I read in the news a couple of years back where tree fell at the exact moment a preacher and his family were driving by it, killing the whole family.

Of course, one can continue to try to explain the logic and reason of why god is sitting in heaven unlocking front doors but allowing 3500 people to burn to death in a terrorist attack on New York City.   Or why he has seen fit to allow Ellen to lose fifteen pounds before her high-school reunion but allowed almost an entire city to be displaced in Louisiana.  Or why he allowed Gertrude to find a great parking spot at Walmart but allowed a tsunami to destroy a good section of an entire coastline full of innocent people.

The choice is yours.  Perhaps you should flip a coin…

  1 comment for “The Power of Coincidence

  1. cameron davis
    April 25, 2010 at 1:12 am

    i think coincidence should get a slight footnote for extremely paranoid people. i miss waking up in my bed, and not have my eyes snap open with worry about things going badly. :/

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