What do you think of coincidences?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    It seems this thread isn't really about the nature of coincidences but is really just another way of reaffirming one's belief in God.

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    We can play this "game"

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    with most any subject matter for a thread on sciforums.

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  3. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    It doesn't need to have anything to do with the supernatural, you were in Thailand at the same time as a coworker who was committing adultery. Neither of you knew the other would be there. That's some coincidence, huh? lol

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    I'm not super-religious by the way, spiritual yes. Being afraid to look for meaning in life doesn't mean that no meaning exists.

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  5. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    It's has to have something to do with the supernatural if you are attributing to anything other than coincidence.

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    Calling an irrational act being afraid doesn't add credence to that point of view either.

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    That's like saying being afraid to looking for ghosts doesn't mean that they are there.

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    My story is the definition of coincidence.

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    That's why I'm "still" telling it as well. I wouldn't recollection post stories that weren't coincidences in this context.

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    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
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  7. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Okay.

    So, were you surprised to not only see this coworker in Thailand at that time, but also cheating on his wife?
     
  8. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Nooo lol It is like saying ''being afraid to look for ghosts doesn't mean that they are NOT there.''


    Something tells me, we will have to agree to disagree on your Thailand story

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  9. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Haha...yes. I would say that we both live on the W.Coast and therefore Thailand is a more likely vacation spot than if we lived somewhere else. There are only so many common tourist spots in Thailand and Phuket is one of them. All tourists in Phuket probably go to a kickboxing match and the match is a weekly event (same time every Friday).

    This doesn't happen on most of my vacations so this a coincident. I wasn't being used as a messenger on any of the others.

    I'm getting the impression that you don't believe in any coincidences. They are all omens from above?

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  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Of course. There is no reason that surprise can't be a reaction to a coincidence. I would say that's usually the case. The phone rings and it is the friend you were just thinking about...surprise.

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  11. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I believe that some coincidences have meaning, not from ''above,'' but sometimes life has a way of teaching us lessons, just through observing.

    On another note, I'm getting the impression that you don't ''believe'' that people can have spiritual beliefs and also think rationally. It seems you feel the two can't go together.
     
  12. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I think that people can (and most do) think rationally and if they are "spiritual" they just don't do it during those spiritual moments. I don't think it's rational to believe in spirits since there is no evidence for that belief (which is why it requires "belief").

    I don't think it hurts anything unless it's an area where the two do conflict. For most people in daily life if may not hurt anything. I do think it's generally better to be rational however. If might be more fun to invent things. Kids definitely increase their capacity for imagination (I think) by engaging in this sort of thing.

    As a kid, at night in the summer, we would sit on a street corner in our neighborhood and look up at the Moon and wonder if it was made of cheese or if a man was really in there. We would laugh, knowing that we were being silly and yet we still had that wonderment of not really knowing much about it and therefore most anything was possible.

    I think that's a very beneficial part of childhood. Imagination is great in adulthood as well but I think it's better when we acknowledge that it's just imagination instead of some mystical "spiritual" nature that we just can't quite put our hands on. People frequently get around this by saying "we don't know everything yet, science is always changing, maybe there is some wavelength that we get on sometimes when coincidences occur and then we get off that wavelength, quantum physics is spooky and unpredictable and therefore anything is possible". This is all nonsense of of course. It's just refusing to think very critically about the issues involved.

    Usually more education in various subject matters greatly reduces some of the concepts that were are able to "believe" in when we don't have much knowledge in those subject matters.
     
  13. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    The problem with these ''discussions'' (we will refrain from dubbing it a debate lol) is that one person (the atheist) believes that a spiritual person's beliefs are tantamount to that of a child's imagination running wild and creating imaginary friends to play with outside at the park. The spiritual person finds it difficult to ''defend'' against that idea because it's so far from his/her thinking, that the conversation will just be talking past one another, do you know what I mean?

    I'm not sure what someone gets out of insulting another person, or putting down what they believe in? I don't know if I want to know. But, that's what you're doing, for the record.

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  14. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I'd be interested to hear (in general) the things in your life you consider to be coincidences and which you consider to be more than coincidental?

    Earlier I said that I find this kind of thing interesting too. My interest (I think) is different from yours as I'm not looking for meaning to come from it but rather I just like to dissect each situation to see just how rare (or not) it is.

    Therefore I've read a bit on this subject (probabilities). People are amazed when someone actually wins the lotto, especially if it is them.

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    Yet, they know that someone wins (depending on the lottery) every day somewhere in the world. It's not coincidental at all that someone wins. They just give it (irrationally?) meaning when they win it.

    People find it more than coincidence that someone could guess 10 correct numbers in a row. However, in a large room, someone will do it every time. We just don't know who that person is beforehand and yet people will still find this amazing.

    This is the aspect that I find interesting.

    You just posted as I'm writing this so I'll address those comments as well. My intention isn't to insult someone's beliefs. It's hard to be clear (direct) without it being possible for someone to be offended but that's not my intent.

    I grew up in a moderately religious household and in a small town in the South where most people nominally at least are believers. I'm not disrespectful toward those people and I don't think less of them than anyone else. I don't think they (or you) are children or childlike in their thinking.

    I don't think they are being rational just as you don't (I'm assuming) think I'm being rational or considering all aspects of this subject.

    I also understand (in my experience) that most spiritual people don't consider that they had to decide one day based on the facts to become spiritual or religious. They mostly say that they just know that they are right or that this way of thinking is right for them the same way that we don't have to decide to fall in love with one's child. It doesn't require an intellectual effort in this regard.

    I get all that. However if asked to discuss this subject I don't know of many ways to do it without being direct. Usually when someone is offended regarding these matters they want your viewpoint but when they hear it, it is too personal to them and that's where the offense comes from. It is a subject matter that is too personal for you and yet you want to discuss it but it's hard to discuss it if you take it too personally.

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    If that makes sense.

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  15. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Okay.

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    Thailand wasn't rare lol

    That's not a coincidence to me. What would be a coincidence is if someone bought the winning lottery ticket, dropped it on the ground, you picked it up...and then you won. The key being that you never take that route ever, but that day you did. lol That's a meaningful coincidence.

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    I guess one could say that's ''luck?'' Not a believer of ''luck'' as what does it even mean?

    Okay.

    Okay, thank you.

    Honestly, I think everyone is as rational as they perceive themselves to be. Your set of views are different than mine, mere logic doesn't get us to where we are, all of the time. There are times when experiences, how we were raised, etc get us to draw conclusions on topics. So, you may be rational and I may be rational, both at the same time - how can we both be right? When it comes to philosophy, can anyone be right or wrong? (like right or wrong when it comes to math or science)

    For many spiritual people, it's really just a path they arrive on, not a decision per se. ''I'm going to believe in God today,'' doesn't really come into the picture for many theists. However, indoctrination during childhood can be a factor.

    So you say. lol

    Okay. I just believe that people can discuss things without putting the other's beliefs down. It's not personal, just not my debate/discussion ''style.''
     
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  16. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    Back to the op:

    Thinking about it, I generally do not accept coincidence as coincidence.
    ..............................................
    From there, it gets murky.
     
  17. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    So what is a coincidence that has no meaning attached to it to you? Or do you just not accept that anything is a coincidence?

    What does this meaningful coincidence (finding lottery ticket) mean to you? What is the meaning that you attribute to it? Karma payback?

    If it hadn't been the winning ticket it wouldn't be meaningful at all. That someone won the lottery wouldn't be meaningful at all. Someone has to find it.
     
  18. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Sadly, I find I can relate to the message in your post.
    In reality, I don't give a stuff re a person's religious beliefs, unless those beliefs infringe on my right as a reasonably modern old bastard living in the 21st century.
    My Mrs is very highly religious and even has her church group over once a month for singing practice. She belongs to a Fijian congregation in Sydney and while they are singing and praising the Lord, I'm down the back in my Man cave doing what I'm doing now, or watching TV.
    But once the singing stops, I'm back up in the main house and sharing a "bilo ni yaqona" [bowl of kava] with them.
    Obviously my wife has great tolerance in putting up with my rather agnostic/atheist life [and I with her religious life] and on the occasions that they cross, we both compromise. Or she has hope to eventually converting me.

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    My obvious reactions on this forum judged by some of my comments on believers is confined to those fanatical believers that see science as an enemy [on a science forum no less

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    ] and those that try at every opportunity to denigrate science.
    I see these fanatics as fair game. Afterall I don't run into my wife's church preaching about the non necessity of any deity or similar.
     
  19. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Well good for you.!!!
    I was... an still am atheist... an over 45 years ago i ask a go-to-church 3 times a week Pennycost to marry me an now we are growin old together

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  20. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    A meaningless coincidence would be that the cashier at my grocery store and I went to the same high school, unbeknownst to us, and we have been chatting for a year, because I see her a lot when on the check out line. There's no meaning there, it's just a coincidence.

    See above. Okay, now you go.

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    What do you consider to be a coincidence, and one that would make you pause, and think...could this be meaningful?

    The meaning in this coincidence is not in finding the winning lottery ticket, it is how you found it...taking a route that you don't ever take, and then you find a winning lottery ticket. I just chalk it up to a meaningful coincidence - that you were meant to find that winning ticket. Not karma, I don't believe karma is about that. Karma is really just a 'what goes around comes around' type of philosophy.

    True.

    The fact that you found it, on a path that you never take, is what makes it meaningful. lol

    If you took the route all the time, and found the winning ticket, it wouldn't be meaningful. That's just law of large numbers at work. I guess someone else could have picked the ticket up, even if you took the same path everyday.
     
  21. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Did you know that marriages where one person is an atheist and the other person is religious have the highest success rates? lol That must be your secret.

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  22. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    40 years this year!!!
    Oh, and I have just now dropped her off to church.

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  23. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think any of them are "meaningful" because I don't know of any "agency" that would be there to give it meaning.

    In the lottery example, you seem to agree with me until we introduce the fact that you never take that path. For you that one circumstance is enough to move it from meaningless to meaningful. For me, it's just one more circumstance. One that increases the odds. Without it it's barely even a coincidence.

    If I never walk down a particular sidewalk and then stump my toe it's no more meaningful to me than any other sidewalk. If I gave it meaning I would have to think maybe I have been doing wrong and someone/thing is trying to tell me to be better (or insert your own interpretation).

    I don't know of "someone" that can do this so there is no meaning for me.

    Correct me if I'm wrong

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    but this whole scenario is just a setup to inject religion or spirituality into this subject.

    I used to get a haircut from a shop owned by a religious family. If it was a nice day the owner would always look out the window while cutting my hair and say "I know there is a God, just look out the window".

    This was out of the blue and not related to our conversation at all as I never mentioned religion while getting my haircut.

    I certainly never looked out the window while there and said, "I know there isn't a God, just look at this beautiful world, one isn't even needed!".

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    My point is that if one is spiritual that is frequently brought with one into every subject matter...including coincidences.

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