# What do you think of coincidences?

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

1. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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Let's not

Just kidding however called something supernatural that arises from the natural isn't logical. Life coming from inanimate objects still isn't supernatural. It's all of this natural world. It all involves atoms, chemical reactions, etc.

3. ### geordiefRegistered Senior Member

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Seems a shame . I thought I might be able to patent the description

It works linguistically doesn't it ? "Supernatural" could be a higher order of "natural" - a step change?

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5. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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I found this article to be interesting but not for the obvious reasons. He is a skeptic and shouldn't be "fooled" but because this was a very personal situation for him he succumbed to a small degree.

If this had happened to anyone else he wouldn't have found it so compelling. The music was coming out of a radio that was working. It's old and didn't continue to work and that's not unusual either.

After years of scuba diving the electronics in my car windows have more or less stopped working (due to salt vapor in the air) in the rear of the car. I don't use them anymore as I don't want them to get stuck in the down position. I bump into the switch sometimes by mistake. Sometimes they move and sometimes they don't.

Change the word window for radio and it's the Shermer story.

James Randy, the magician and skeptic, had a similar experience. He was in his bedroom and almost died, he felt an out of body experience and found himself on the ceiling looking down on himself. He described the colored pattern of the sheets on the bed.

He recovered from his illness but was confounded by his experience. The only reason that he was able to figure out what happened (as it seemed so real to him) was that his roommate pointed out that the pattern his was describing (which did match some sheets that he owns) was not the sheet that was on the bed the day that he "almost" died.

His brain filled in all of that. So, it can happen to anyone. It now makes him appreciate how sincere some people are in their beliefs even though it's not real.

7. ### wegsMatter & Pixie DustValued Senior Member

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Interesting...

Are you roping me in? lol

Spirituality can be very comforting, but not out of fear. It just seems more convoluted to think of life as strictly material.

That sounds right.

8. ### cluelusshusbund+ Public Dilemma +Valued Senior Member

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Yep... e.g... i once worked wit a guy an i ask him if he believed in God an he said... i dont believe in God -- i know God is real... an i asked how he knew an he said because we talk to each other ever day... an i asked what God says to him an he said... stuff like... unbutton you'r top shirt button... wear a poncho to work... go to the mall an observe people to discover why women wont date you.!!!

9. ### geordiefRegistered Senior Member

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No you are skipping off to work in the morning

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10. ### DinosaurRational SkepticValued Senior Member

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I scanned most of the Posts to this Thread & apologize if this response is similar to some previous Post that I missed.

If you consider the number of people aged 18-75 in the united states & the number of their experiences in each day, you would expect some coincidences.

If there were no seemingly strange coincidences, I would seriously consider the possibility of some supernatural entity or ET visitor with amazingly advanced technology preventing coincidences from happening.

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11. ### geordiefRegistered Senior Member

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Who thinks of life as strictly material? Isn't that old fashioned science?

12. ### wegsMatter & Pixie DustValued Senior Member

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There are many atheists who are materialists. I have a few friends who consider themselves to be materialists.

13. ### wegsMatter & Pixie DustValued Senior Member

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Hi Dinosaur, what do you mean by ''strange?'' Or in other words, my definition of ''meaningful coincidences'' would be defined by you, as merely ''strange?'' Not strange as in weird, but strange as in unusual/atypical?

14. ### geordiefRegistered Senior Member

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Maybe I should get out more. I thought it was a term that had had its day.

15. ### wegsMatter & Pixie DustValued Senior Member

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I heard the term recently, and decided to read up on it more, and isn't that what some in this thread are suggesting? That everything that happens in life stems from the physical/natural order of things? (and more importantly, that there isn't anything beyond that?)

Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
16. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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I won't address the meaning that some have for "materialists" because I don't know exactly how some are using that.

However, suggesting that everything in life stems from the natural order of things is what I'm suggesting but you seem to be suggesting (correct me if I'm wrong) that you think that excludes having subjective feelings? I'm actually not clear on what distinction you are drawing here?

One can have feelings without invoking the supernatural. One can have subjective feelings regarding subject matter that isn't objective...beauty, art, love, etc.

17. ### wegsMatter & Pixie DustValued Senior Member

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Oh, I agree with this, more of what I meant has to do with that some are suggesting in this thread that there will always be a natural explanation for those subjective experiences. And to that I ask...where does one derive their knowledge to know for certain, that every single event that happens to them, can be explained by the natural order of things?

18. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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I would just say that we should conduct our life in that way since we have no evidence to suggest that there is anything other than the natural order of things.

We don't generally conduct ourselves in most aspects of our lives as if literally anything is possible even though in terms of statistics or logic we could argue that.

When you are deciding whether it's self to cross the street once you eliminate any objects from the natural world you go ahead and cross the street. It's possible you could be hit by an invisible creature from a hidden dimension but you don't live your life that way.

You don't really think it's going to happen because you have absolutely no indication that that sort of thing can occur.

There are things that we don't know but even when we later do know those things they still had logical, rational explanations. I just take exception with those who think that whatever is currently unknown is likely to have a supernatural explanation when that has never turned out to be the case for anything else.

19. ### geordiefRegistered Senior Member

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I had always understood it to mean a strict determinism. Everything was in principle explainable in detail (even ,maybe especially human interactions) if we knew enough about them

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_materialism

Maybe my understanding has been coloured by this kind of materialism and I am unaware of others.

"everything that happens in life stems from the physical/natural order of things?" (your quote)

. It does seem a very good starting point. My point of view is also that there needs to be nothing "beyond" that : the "physical/natural order of thing" is so freakily convoluted on its own terms that it can cope with all those "spiritual" attributes in its spare time.

Maybe if I thought the natural/physical order of things was something fairly simple I would reach for alternative explanations but I am nowhere near understanding those things or anticipate a time when that will be any closer.

The more we learn and it seems the more questions present themselves

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20. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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Geordief brings up a good point. I think he is referring to the quantum world in part. It used to be thought that if we could know where every particle was then we would know the past and the future. It would be determined in that sense.

Not that this was ever practical but in theory. With quantum theory everything isn't so deterministic as it's not possible even in theory.

It's also a good example of his (Geordief) other point. There is (and will be) so much reality to learn about that there simply is no need for less satisfying "supernatural" explanations when the natural explanations are so much more interesting. As they say, reality is so much better than any science fiction could be.

21. ### wegsMatter & Pixie DustValued Senior Member

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Valid points, and for the record, I don't live my daily life with my head in ''another world.'' lol And do believe that it's perfectly fine to say ''what caused that? I don't know.'' I don't always leap to spirituality when looking for answers, but sometimes, instead of ''I don't know,'' it seems to fit. One would have to be open to spirituality of course, to think so. But I agree with your points, here.

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22. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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I can understand that. If you have any spiritual feelings at all then the only time you could reinforce them would be with situations that are puzzling. If it's something you understand that's not going to be the thing that reinforces spiritual thoughts.

The historical track record is not on your side however.

People used to sacrifice their first born, then female child, then animals to the rain God (for instance). The crops might have been better the next year. Coincidence? They thought not and made certain to make a sacrifice each year.

It was a coincidence however.

I'm interested in this subject enough however that at one time I bought 3 dice to test out some of the probabilities of how often each number and combinations should come up. It's intuitive on one level and strangely on another level we still have trouble with it unless we really think about it.

People will play on a slot machine in Vegas. They have put $30 in quarters though the machine, need to go to the bathroom but don't want to leave just yet and they haven't won anything yet but feel that their time is past due. Each roll of the dice however is an independent event. It's just as likely to roll any particular number on the first roll as on the 6th roll. So, putting$30 through the machine without winning doesn't increase your odds for the next roll over the person who just showed up next to you.

It's not intuitive in one sense and yet we know that the machine doesn't have a "memory" and so it is intuitive. If you look at people's actions however they aren't behaving rationally.

We people are funny.

23. ### wellwisherBannedBanned

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Coincidence is relative, meaning that if you don't fully understand a phenomena, it becomes easy to think it is random or coincidental. However, it can be casual, but not consciously to you; meaningful coincidence.

For example, before the age of reason, the causes and affects of nature, as defined by modern science, were felt to be subject to the whims of the gods; coincidences. Things we see as casual today, were not always that obvious, but were felt to be random; subject to the whims of the gods.

Let me give an example, Newton found that a given amount of mass, no matter the size or shape of the object, will fall at the same rate; due to gravity. This is not obvious since there are other factors connected to size and shape, such as wind resistance and wind direction, that will impact the rate of fall. If conditions were right such that wind resistance was minimized, it may look like a coincidence that both large and small objects were all hitting the ground at the same time. This is not a coincidence, but a meaningful coincidence, since this is casual and will someday be defined by an equation.

It is very possible, that the unconscious mind knows rational connections, before the conscious mind; gut feeling. This unconscious source of hunches urges on scientists, so they can prove the phenomena to the conscious minds of themselves and all. The meaning coincidence becomes a law of science, eventually.

In my opinion, there is too much use of statistical analysis, causing an atrophy in rational thinking. During the age of reason, before statistics was overused, people assumed there was a reason for everything. But now, too many people are happy to accept the premise that we live in a random world, controlled the whim of the god Murphy (Murphy's law). It is almost taboo to assume rational connections. There are no meaningful coincidences, by decree.

For example, the life sciences make extensive use of statistics. My gut feeling is this is a regressive illusion. The logical reason for this is water is a copartner with the organics, in terms of the properties of life. No enzyme will work without water. Water is not adequately included at the level of physical-bio-chemistry of analysis. The result is there are not enough variables in the analysis; organic centric, to be fully rational, leading to whims of the gods approach. If you include water, meaningful coincidences abound, ready for a rational interpretation. But this is taboo since whim of the Gods seems good enough.