A Theist Moment6 February, 2008
Have any atheists out there had an experience which was too perfect for it to seem like chance? A moment when, in the face of disaster (or impending disaster), things suddenly went your way?
My family and I enjoy vacations. My wife’s parents are retired to Florida, mine are retired in Maine. Our favourite place on earth is Yellowstone National Park and, in order to hit other neat places in between here and there, we generally drive.
A few years ago, we made plans for trip out west. Day one, to Bettendorf, Iowa. Day two, Greeley, Colorado. Yes, we drove long and fast. We then spent a day at Rocky Mountain National Park and drove back to Greeley (from thence to Dinosaur, Fossil Butte, through Grand Tetons to Yellowstone). The day was great. We saw elk, marmots, mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, snow (mid-June), and got to drive through a thunderstorm at 11,000 feet. As we went down the mountains, the clouds had the most perfectly formed mammatus cloud formations. Beautiful.
Along the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a Black Eyed Peas restaurant (still about a half-hour from our lodging). I spent enough time in the Cumberland Valley of Maryland to get a taste for southern food. I had pintos with country ham, collard greens, biscuits, and country ham. It was, well, good. Not great, but good.
Now, every time we go on vacation, I experience, at least once, what I can best describe as ‘vacation troubles.’ It starts with a rumbling and, if I don’t find a ‘facility’ quickly, I’m in trouble. The problem was, we hit rush hour traffic heading into Greeley. I was in trouble.
I spotted a strip mall, and made a quick right turn. And missed the entrance. Luckily, behind the strip mall was a construction area. Even if I can’t find a rest room, it’ll be deserted this late in the day, right? Wrong. It was a half-finished, half-occupied housing development. As I made left and right turns, hoping for some way to save, if not my dignity, at least the upholstery in my wife’s car, I saw it.
Lit by a single shaft of sunlight out of the west, illuminated by a ray of sunshine, was a porta-potty. I was saved (and my wife’s mini-van was saved).
Now, I have been around for forty-two years. This episode is the closest I have ever come to experiencing even the possibility of the existence of god. I know that finding the facility was not a miracle. It was not an impossibility which manifested itself physically. It was merely an improbability. That damn porta-potty most likely took my one bit of luck which might have won PowerBall (just kidding).
So. Have any other atheists experienced an extremely unlikely event, experienced an improbability, a moment when, seconds from disaster, chance intervened? And would a theist interpret that porta-potty as proof of the existence of god?