Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

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Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#1  Postby Zadocfish2 » Jul 18, 2017 12:29 am

Hi! I've been gone a while, because I re-converted to Christianity.

Let me explain how it happened: Going back and forth, I finally ended up praying, "It's so contradictory; what parts of the Bible should I believe, Lord?" On a weird hunch, I looked up a Verse of the Day site. It said, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 3 Timothy 16-17

The words themselves, I had some issues with (clearly Leviticus isn't meant to extend to modern Christians, and the epistle writers didn't consider their own work "scripture," seeing as they were just letters at the time, and a few other things). But, it just so happened that I got a response that was a word-for-word, properly-phrased answer to the question I had asked in prayer, on that exact day, at that exact time (after the daily verse switch at 9 pm).

How, exactly, does one explain that sort of thing as coincidence? The odds are just too astronomical. Not the last time that happened, either, there are times when I would get passages from the same book from 2 different random verse generators and a verse of the day all in the same night, or I would be leafing through Bible passages and read one at random, and find the verse of the day was from one chapter previous, etc...

Honestly, I still struggle, because the basic problems that made me leave the faith last time haven't quite gone away... But each time something like that happens, the odds are so absurdly impossible that I can't help but think of it as a message. On the other hand, I also note that the same thing probably happens to Muslims and any other religion with an established scripture, and that this kind of thing is what bolsters their faith, too (maybe? If this only happens to Christians, you have to admit that's pretty strange).

So, once again I'm stuck. What do you guys think of such weirdly specific coincidences in a believer's life? Don't you think it's strange at all?
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#2  Postby pelfdaddy » Jul 18, 2017 1:18 am

I expect if someone representing a religion that was other than your own were to report their own coincidences--and everyone has them, all over the world, from all cultures and faith positions--you would find you are pretty good at ferreting out the various prosaic explanations that would render them just little less extraordinary.

I personally know three men who each scored a hole in one in successive weeks on the same par three hole in Texas. No one is really tempted to attribute this to the action of an intervening deity.

Here is a story that is a bit closer to your own...

As a young Christian, I prayed for the healing of a friend who was diagnosed with leukemia. He moved back home to another state to stay with family at about that same time. Another friend who was not a believer told me he had a dream about a girl with a tattoo that showed a bible verse. He told me the chapter and verse number, I looked it up, and was amazed to find it was a reference to healing. Then I got a call from yet another friend who reported that the guy with cancer had been suddenly healed.

I told that story for years.

But...coincidences aside, I realize that I was actively connecting dots and noticing details, while failing to connect other dots and ignoring other details.

And the guy was not miraculously cured; he suffered quite exquisitely, only achieved remission after a lengthy and painful stint of radiation and chemotherapy, and fatally relapsed after a few years.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#3  Postby crank » Jul 18, 2017 2:05 am

I was reading a book, this was back about 12 years ago, and it had the word 'sheleighly' in it. I didn't recognize it and had to look it up. It's a club basically, like this:
Image

Later, while reading the next book, not related in any way to the previous one, I came across the damn word again! And then the next book had the word in it. No theme or anything tied the books together, just that I happened to be reading them. 3books in a row, near random choice, and to have the same fairly rare word, the first time I remember ever seeing it? Doe god like sheleighlies by any chance?
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#4  Postby laklak » Jul 18, 2017 3:11 am

Of fecking course He fecking does, He's fecking Irish.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#5  Postby zulumoose » Jul 18, 2017 5:58 am

When I was in primary school, back in the 70's, I had a very vivid dream that I was flying through the air head-first and my intent was to crash into an aeroplane. The next day I was watching TV and the bad guys had taken control of a newly developed missile which worked by remote control video with a camera in the nose, and they were guiding it to hit an airliner. The screen switched to a missile-eye view of basically what I had dreamed.

I felt a bit weird about that for a long time. Much later I realised I may have seen an advert and forgotten about it.

Or it could have been God telling me to - feel awkward?

Bear in mind that humans are biased towards seeing patterns, this is a great survival mechanism, enabling us to recognise trends and act accordingly and proportionally, but it also means we see phantom patterns because we can't accept that there are no patterns when we are looking for them.

Hence things like astrology charts that people find amazingly specific and accurate. Tell them their reading and they will be astounded at how good it is, but when you tell them that oops, sorry, you read the wrong one, they are not really surprised because in the back of their mind they know they are doing all the work to make it fit themselves. This is how religions work. They work amongst those who want them to work, because it is all in the mind. Nobody within the religion is surprised when someone loses faith, because they all know faith is a needy high-maintenance girlfriend, freedom from it can feel like a relief because it is not what it pretends to be.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#6  Postby TopCat » Jul 18, 2017 7:28 am

Zadocfish2 wrote:So, once again I'm stuck. What do you guys think of such weirdly specific coincidences in a believer's life? Don't you think it's strange at all?

Since you ask, I think you really, really, really need to understand confirmation bias. Unfortunately, Christians are so conditioned to believe, that cognitive dissonance sets in before they're prepared to engage sufficient intellectual honesty.

My other thought is that if you can be swayed to and from your faith by such things, Revelation 3:16 maybe applies. And if you fell away before, Hebrews 6:4-6, although I've never met a Christian that has the guts to take that seriously.

Still liking 2 Timothy 3:16-17 quite so much?

Seriously, it's all just cherry picking (which obviously, I'm doing too to make the point) and confirmation bias.

Bottom line: if you want to be a Christian, you'll find a way of justifying the cherry picking. You even did it in your OP about Leviticus - you excluded its laws on the subjective basis that "clearly" it doesn't apply to modern Christians, and allowed yourself to opt out of anything you don't like in the NT by virtue of it not being "scripture".

Frankly, it's one of the weakest apologetics I've seen, and I've seen plenty.

ETA:

Zadocfish2 wrote:The words themselves, I had some issues with (clearly Leviticus isn't meant to extend to modern Christians, and the epistle writers didn't consider their own work "scripture," seeing as they were just letters at the time, and a few other things). But, it just so happened that I got a response that was a word-for-word, properly-phrased answer to the question I had asked in prayer, on that exact day, at that exact time (after the daily verse switch at 9 pm).


Can't you see that you're even cherry picking the interpretation of the so-called "answer" you received?

You say yourself that you don't like the content, but choose to interpret the timing of the event as supernatural.

If it was God answering your question, don't you think he'd give you an answer that was true? Yet you reject the content (oh, noes, Leviticus doesn't apply, and the NT doesn't count either), and cite the timing instead.

It's bollocks, and detestably dishonest.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#7  Postby Animavore » Jul 18, 2017 8:28 am

I had two musical coincidences in a row in the pub last Monday. I was talking to some other fella about Coldplay, who had just played in Dublin, and next thing Coldplay came on the jukebox, which just plays random hits when no one has put money in it. Then we started talking about some band (I completely forget now) and trying to think of that one hit they had years ago and as we were trying to think of it, it came up next on the jukebox.

D'other fella thought something spooky was going on. I didn't think it was anything more than amusing. So the first question would be - did something genuinely, objectively spooky happen? Or was the spookiness merely subjective to only one of the participants of the conversation? And; how would we find out for the former? That is, how would we settle the argument over whose interpretation is correct?

The thing about coincidences is; given all the zillions of thoughts and information, a lot of it repetition, which passes through our brains, life would be more spooky, perplexing - even incomprehensible - if there were no coincidences. How could it never happen that someone is thinking (a close approximation to) the exact same thing as someone else at the same time? Or someone had a dream about someone else the night they died? Or someone wished someone else dead and they died? Or that a song comes on the radio just as someone is whistling it? Or, indeed, a person finds an answer to a prayer by selecting a random quote frm a book?
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#8  Postby Animavore » Jul 18, 2017 8:34 am

By the way, I just got this Bible quote of the day picking the first one which came up on Google.

"Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does good is from God. Anyone who does evil has not seen God."
3 John 1:11

http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-verse-of-the-day/

That could also be interpreted as 'answering' your question.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#9  Postby Animavore » Jul 18, 2017 8:45 am

I couldn't resist checking another.

"But now, this is what the LORD says - He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel, "Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine."
http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-verse-of-the-day/

Admittedly I don't see how that answers shit. Unless you were playing Jeopardy, then the question would be, " What is Isaiah 43:1?"
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#10  Postby Manticore » Jul 18, 2017 9:29 am

crank wrote:I was reading a book, this was back about 12 years ago, and it had the word 'sheleighly' in it. I didn't recognize it and had to look it up. It's a club basically, like this:
Image

Later, while reading the next book, not related in any way to the previous one, I came across the damn word again! And then the next book had the word in it. No theme or anything tied the books together, just that I happened to be reading them. 3books in a row, near random choice, and to have the same fairly rare word, the first time I remember ever seeing it? Doe god like sheleighlies by any chance?


Never seen that spelling before - most people seem to spell it "Shillelagh". (Apparently after the town where it originated.)
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#11  Postby Animavore » Jul 18, 2017 9:38 am

If I ever need a cane I'll be using a shillelagh. They're the business.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#12  Postby Matthew Shute » Jul 18, 2017 10:21 am

Image
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#13  Postby zulumoose » Jul 18, 2017 10:48 am

Animavore wrote:If I ever need a cane I'll be using a shillelagh. They're the business.


I could be wrong, but I think they are traditionally too short to be used as canes, the more traditional Irish walking stick is a Blackthorn. I have one my father made.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#14  Postby zulumoose » Jul 18, 2017 10:56 am

The Wikipedia page is not what I remember, their pic as below shows a number of things. What I know as a Shillelagh is only the first two items on the left, the blackthorn walking stick as I know it is the middle item with the full handle at almost 90 degrees and the knobbly shaft. On the extreme right is what I would say is far too long to be a Shillelagh, but the lighter coloured pronounced knob on the end is characteristic.


Image

EDIT - pic link does not appear to show, it is this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shillelagh_(club)#/media/File:Assorted_shillelagh.JPG
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#15  Postby Zadocfish2 » Jul 18, 2017 11:53 am

If it was God answering your question, don't you think he'd give you an answer that was true? Yet you reject the content (oh, noes, Leviticus doesn't apply, and the NT doesn't count either), and cite the timing instead.


To be fair, both of those exceptions are perfectly Biblical. Leviticus starts out by saying it's a list of rules FOR ISRAELITES retaking the promised land. And again, the epistles are letters and the Church fathers had no way of knowing that they would ever be put into the context of scripture.

Cherry-picking or no, it's a frankly erroneous to look at the Bible without understanding context.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#16  Postby MS2 » Jul 18, 2017 12:16 pm

Zadocfish2 wrote:How, exactly, does one explain that sort of thing as coincidence? The odds are just too astronomical.

I don't know what they are, but they're certainly not astronomical. Those sites only put 'verses of the day' out that they consider will address people's spiritual needs. I don't know how big the bank of such verses is on the site you used. They probably only need 365, so they can cycle through a year. But lets say it is more than double that, at 800. if so, at most, the odds are 1 in 800. Not astronomical. But there are probably quite a lot of verses in those 800 that you would also have thought 'answered' your need at that point. if so, that makes the odds considerably less than 1 in 800. Bear in mind that 'doubts about the Bible' are a common need in modern times, and so those sites find as many verses as they can that address it.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#17  Postby zulumoose » Jul 18, 2017 12:26 pm

Those sites only put 'verses of the day' out that they consider will address people's spiritual needs. I don't know how big the bank of such verses is on the site you used. They probably only need 365, so they can cycle through a year.


Anyone choosing such verses would certainly be selecting the ones that they feel have the widest appeal and application, they would be silly not to, and they would be aiming at getting the same people to return to their site, so a large percentage of them would be of the positive feel good faith reinforcing variety.

Just like astrology, you could choose at random and you would be unlikely to pick one that felt wrong.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#18  Postby crank » Jul 18, 2017 12:48 pm

Manticore wrote:
crank wrote:I was reading a book, this was back about 12 years ago, and it had the word 'sheleighly' in it. I didn't recognize it and had to look it up. It's a club basically, like this:
Image

Later, while reading the next book, not related in any way to the previous one, I came across the damn word again! And then the next book had the word in it. No theme or anything tied the books together, just that I happened to be reading them. 3books in a row, near random choice, and to have the same fairly rare word, the first time I remember ever seeing it? Doe god like sheleighlies by any chance?


Never seen that spelling before - most people seem to spell it "Shillelagh". (Apparently after the town where it originated.)

I actually spelled it that way, just winged it knowing it would get redlined, because I can't spell worth a shit, but it didn't, and I searched and got lots of hits. But most of them were the spelling you mention. I didn't notice that when I searched the first time, that's more confirmation bias, I only noticed the ones I was looking for. And it's been too long ago and my brain has poor recall function, but if I had to bet, I'd say the books had the spelling I remembered. That would also be even more of a coincidence, 3 books in a row with the same word and all three having the rarer spelling variant. There is a god!
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#19  Postby John Platko » Jul 18, 2017 2:03 pm

Zadocfish2 wrote:Hi! I've been gone a while, because I re-converted to Christianity.

Let me explain how it happened: Going back and forth, I finally ended up praying, "It's so contradictory; what parts of the Bible should I believe, Lord?" On a weird hunch, I looked up a Verse of the Day site. It said, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 3 Timothy 16-17

The words themselves, I had some issues with (clearly Leviticus isn't meant to extend to modern Christians, and the epistle writers didn't consider their own work "scripture," seeing as they were just letters at the time, and a few other things). But, it just so happened that I got a response that was a word-for-word, properly-phrased answer to the question I had asked in prayer, on that exact day, at that exact time (after the daily verse switch at 9 pm).

How, exactly, does one explain that sort of thing as coincidence? The odds are just too astronomical. Not the last time that happened, either, there are times when I would get passages from the same book from 2 different random verse generators and a verse of the day all in the same night, or I would be leafing through Bible passages and read one at random, and find the verse of the day was from one chapter previous, etc...

Honestly, I still struggle, because the basic problems that made me leave the faith last time haven't quite gone away... But each time something like that happens, the odds are so absurdly impossible that I can't help but think of it as a message. On the other hand, I also note that the same thing probably happens to Muslims and any other religion with an established scripture, and that this kind of thing is what bolsters their faith, too (maybe? If this only happens to Christians, you have to admit that's pretty strange).

So, once again I'm stuck. What do you guys think of such weirdly specific coincidences in a believer's life? Don't you think it's strange at all?


People have tried to understand these weird specific coincidences. Jung called it Synchronicity. Nobody has been able to figure out what's up with it. Perhaps it's just a result of how good the human mind is at pattern matching. Some people who pay attention to it get useful insights others not so much. If you're interested in a mystical journey then it might be useful to follow.

"It's so contradictory; what parts of the Bible should I believe, Lord?"


I'm not Lord but I find it best to only believe that which I find to be believable. Although I ask myself, what interpretation of this story could make it believable. Often, I can find no good interpretation of a story - my take away then is, even when people try very hard to sift right from wrong they often fail - that I find to be very believable.
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Re: Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?

#20  Postby tuco » Jul 18, 2017 2:16 pm

Animavore wrote:By the way, I just got this Bible quote of the day picking the first one which came up on Google.

"Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does good is from God. Anyone who does evil has not seen God."
3 John 1:11

http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-verse-of-the-day/

That could also be interpreted as 'answering' your question.


Yup, when I Googled it earlier this morning I decided not to post what I think as OP asked for. Seriously :)
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