Imagine a man being rushed to the hospital from a local park. A nurse’s hand is exerting pressure on the wound, trying to stop the bleeding. The nurses rush the man into the emergency room, do their best to stabilize the heart rate and pulse of the man and prepare for surgery. The doctor, who spent more than 10 years in his education, comes out. He’s mentally and physically prepared for the surgery. The man he was about to perform an operation on was shot. The bullet missed his heart by two centimeters. The success rate of taking out the bullet and eliminate the poison without damaging anything and keeping the man alive is less than 40%. The doctor and his team of experts manage to pull it off after hours of surgery; the man is alive.
What do you think of this hypothetical situation? The typical theist would immediately, without a doubt, thank his god. There would be minimal to no gratitude at all to the doctor and his team, who spent hours performing a delicate procedure to save the man’s life, compared to the gratitude the deity is receiving. How do you think the doctor’s feel? Surely, even if they don’t show it, they are slightly disappointed. The surgeons spent more than 8 years studying medicine and surgical procedures, worked their way to achieve the degree and polish their skills as close to perfect as they can. Now, think of what will happen should the surgery have failed. The theist would not even think of raising up the topic of his god. The theist would blame the surgeon and his team for “not trying hard enough” or worse, for not praying to their god to heal the patient. You see the logic here? The theist prays for something and they pounce at the smallest coincidence or turn of events that makes it seem as if their prayers were answered. Now, with the given situation above, a theist can also say that their god guided the hands of the surgeons to make the surgery a success. Again, no gratitude or points given to the years of study and training the surgeons took and hours of surgery. If this was indeed valid, then they might as well just pick a random person to perform the surgery and let “god guide his hands”. And then again, what if the surgery failed? Where was the “divine guidance”? Is he probably helping another, more favored patient in another emergency room somewhere?
Now, I’m not saying that thanking a deity is wrong. It’s not wrong in the same way that a child interacts with an imaginary friend isn’t wrong. What makes it wrong is when you start shoving this idol you believe in upon others. Worse if you impose the belief that this idol you believe in is controlling everyone’s movements, like the surgeon in the above story, and just step on all of their hard work. That’s like telling a rich man who earned his finances through clean, hard work “god made you rich” and telling a regular office employee who lives off of minimum wage “god wants you to live off of minimum wage”. It gives this false sense of life being pre-determined and nothing we do will change it. If that were the case then we are nothing more than puppets, helpless if our puppeteer doesn’t act. But we are not. We aren’t puppets, we are human with full control of our life. If others want to live their life believing they are being controlled by something, sure, let them. But they have no right to dictate to others or even impose to others the belief that they are also being controlled by some puppeteer.
So what is the meaning behind these uncanny, accidental events that happen unexpectedly? Nothing. They’re purely coincidental. There’s no special meaning behind it, no supernatural being or force influenced whatever happened. Most of us like to think that things happen for a reason or events happen out of “divine guidance” because, in terms of negative events, it gives us a sense of hope and in a way, helps us cope with the stress; it’s our mind’s way of self-comfortation. Now, for positive events, this sort of mentality gives us a sense of optimism and eagerness to find out what else is “meant for us”. I’m not saying these are negative, it’s completely alright to have these traits. I don’t see any harm in indulging in the mind’s way of helping us cope with distress and eustress. But it also wouldn’t hurt to know a little about reality. So, by knowing that everything just happens by chance, is life dull? No, absolutely not. In fact, it makes it more exciting.
Knowing that “coincidences” are nothing more than an effect from a long chain of causality is like taking off the chain that binds us to a deluded mindset that everything has a pre-determined purpose. We now should be put on the mindset that we are in full control of our lives. It’s us who decides whether or not we’re gonna have a good day or not. We may be influenced by external factors such as a bad hair day, horrible weather, traffic jam and etc, but it’s what we decide to do about it that will make our day. If we decide to just whine and complain about it, then we are indeed gonna have a bad day because of minor setbacks. If we decide to just suck it up and live with it, then our day will be just fine; you see, the ultimate decision comes down to us. Now, if we manage to do that just for one day, imagine how satisfying and happy our life would be if we could have that mindset for the rest of our lives? No constant begging to an unresponsive deity for good luck or a good day, no leaving it up to “life”, no “destined to be sad” or “whatever will be, will be”. It’ll just be us, living in a conscious and realistic mindset towards our future.