Here’s a little story that happened last night:
I had just spent an extended weekend at home and just before I had to leave, I realized that I had lost my key ring, which had the keys to my room and cycle. I usually place it in a small pouch in the back pocket of my bag when I come home. This time, for some reason, I had tossed it right into the back pocket, as far as I remembered. I had only bothered to check for it 20 minutes before the train back to Madras was scheduled to arrive (just as I was leaving from home) so it was a rather frantic search… in the bag, on my desk at home, in all the million pockets of the cargoes I was wearing on the train that da… but in vain. Once we got to the station and discovered that the train was late by 15 minutes-confirmed it, rather, because this train is always late- I checked all over the bag again, and so did my father. I was rather careful and it felt like a thorough search*.
Anyway. I had made a very glum peace with it- wondering how I would go about breaking my lock, deciding to call one of my more able-bodied friends for help, etc- and was just settling down to bed-to berth, I guess? No, too weird- when I realized that I no longer had my earphones, either. This, interestingly enough, did not affect me much at all, despite the fact that I usually rely on music to help me sleep on the train. After searching everywhere else, I wondered if I might have put it in the bag, for some reason, and decided to check.
So I thought to myself, if I open the bag and see the keys right now, that would be a real miracle, because by now I had convinced myself that I had lost it on the train from Madras, last Friday. And because my father had been telling me to pray even if I thought it was pointless, because it would help me worry less about things- and because this is “the age of blind reason”, till my mid-20s, and I will learn the subtleties of faith later, or something- I sort of looked up and thought in a snarky voice:** “You hear that, God? A miracle. That’s how desperate I am”. Then I opened the back pouch.
And-ha, like you didn’t know this was coming- there it was, lying right in front of me in the middle of the pouch.
Yeah, I know. It wasn’t that much of a coincidence. The bag was tilted somewhat this time, so maybe it had been stuck in some very tiny, hard to reach place- all searches were conducted by opening it wide and groping around with my hands (but more carefully than that expression suggests), not pulling it upside down and shaking it- and I had just pulled it loose by throwing the bag to the upper berth and tilting it. Or something. Natural explanations a-plenty. But, even so, I would have felt quite intellectually dishonest if I hadn’t blogged about this.
Thoughts? I have a rather large number (proportion, rather, because my numbers aren’t large at all :))of atheist readers… would something like this happening to you cause a substantial change in your probability of God existing? Would it cause any change at all? From a purely Bayesian point of view it is obvious that it should cause an almost insignificantly small change, but the impact it has in a visceral sense is quite a bit stronger: that is to say, several events of this sort would still only cause a relatively small change for a strict Bayesian, but your average human it is much more liable to shift the balance of probability entirely. And I will confess to not being a very strict Bayesian.
PS: I never did find the earphones, in case anyone was wondering. They were pretty old, but still in quite decent condition. And although I really don’t understand why, I’m still very relaxed about that.
*I’m only going into detail on this to show that at least at the time, I was fairly sure the keys weren’t in the bag.
**I swear I did this, I wrote this down on my phone soon after I got the keys. I don’t know if this is a thing “normal” people (whoever they are) do, but I tend to talk to myself a lot, and I often use several entirely different voices in my head. I had this rather “unrealistic” British accent that I used when I read Shakespeare- most of my English textbooks, actually- back in school. There are a bunch of others, but I really don’t want to go into detail here 🙂 .