Do coincidences happen? Or does God cause them? Thanks


This is a fun question to think about.  I am sure many believers have asked themselves this intriguing question. My answer is yes, of course coincidences happen.  For example, when someone wins the super lottery, it is a fantastic coincidence that they happened to choose the same set of six or seven numbers (I really have no idea how many numbers, because I have never played the lottery). But so many people play the lottery, that someone will eventually have this fantastically rare coincidence happen.   A coincidence is a set of connected events which have a very low probability of happening together.  The reason coincidences happen is that a lot of things happen!  In other words, if there is a one in ten million chance of a meteorite reaching the earth hitting a person when it falls, but there are thirty million meteorites, then, statistically, three people will be hit by meteorites.  Those three events will be fantastically rare “coincidences,” but coincidences happen.  People get lucky.  Highly unlikely events do happen, simply because so many events happen.

Might what seems to be a coincidence actually be a miraculous intervention by God?  Possibly, but how would we ever know for sure?  The answer is that we cannot.  So, I suggest that we not get too caught up worrying whether a surprising event is a coincidence or the miraculous. intervention of God.  As Christians we pray for things, and then they happen.  Was that just luck or coincidence or was it God answering our prayers?  The skeptic will tell us it was just a coincidence and laugh at our belief that it was answered prayer.  Honestly, we cannot absolutely know for sure if it was supernatural intervention or mere “luck.”  I have heard people say that there is no such thing as “luck.”  Well, I disagree.  Extremely unlikely events do happen occasionally, and we can define such an event as luck. As Christians we will probably conclude that it is an answered prayer, but we may want to keep in mind that it is possible it was just a coincidence.  Our faith in God should not be based principally on what we believe to be answered prayers.  As Christians we believe that God answers prayers, but we can rarely prove it.  We accept it on faith, because faith is belief in unseen things.  As Christians we will have to live with a degree of ambiguity.  In my own life I have had a large number of remarkable things happen, and such events were connected with a prayer to God.  I believe that these things are answered prayer–miraculous intervention–but I cannot prove it and I would be cautious about making such claims openly to an atheist, but they increase my faith!  However, I try to remind myself that my faith is not determined principally by personal answered prayer. It is based on the resurrection of Jesus and the inspiration of the Bible.

John Oakes

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