Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Lottery Coincidence

The following is a reproduction of my comments in a blog post by Steve Hays titled, "The mystery of providence." These comments are adapted from previous comments I made at another blog Steve previously wrote title, "Hiding in plain sight"

Here's a possible example of a public demonstration of a special providence in modern times.

EXACTLY one year (TO THE DAY) after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 2001, one of the New York lotteries picked the numbers 9, 1, 1 as the winning numbers.
See HERE for a video.

Many consider the coincidence not that extraordinary. See this ABC News article:
The 9-11 Lottery Coincidence

Snopes' article on the topic and its statistical insignificance: HERE

For myself, I'm not convinced that it should be dismissed as a mere coincidence based on the following questions I have.

1. Why was the exact order of the numbers picked 9-1-1 instead of 1-9-1 or 1-1-9?

2. Why would the 911 pop up in the New York lottery instead of one of the other 49 states on that anniversary?

3. Why exactly the date of the anniversary (i.e. 9/11/2002)?

4. Why not some other day within the 365 days of that first year or past 365 but within the second year mark?

5. Why not in some future anniversary like the 2nd year or 3rd year, or 4th year or 10th year? Why THAT VERY FIRST anniversary?

6. Why should the lottery game that has only three numbers to be picked be the one that this coincidence shows up in and not one of the other lotteries that play on that same day. For example, of 6 picked numbers, three of them correspond to 9,1,1, or two of them correspond to 9,11?
Like 5, 9, 11, 27, 33, 45.
In the video above, there was a second lottery that took place immediately afterward which required 4 numbers to be picked. Why didn't the coincidence happen in that one? I don't know if there was a morning and evening drawing on that day.

7. While it's possible, why would a single human or group of humans fix the outcome? Those in position to do so would most likely be employed by the lottery establishment. In which case they would be endangering their own jobs. Since such an outcome would be so outstanding many people would (and did) cry "foul!"; claiming the results were (humanly) fixed. Some people were probably demanding a criminal investigation.

Both articles above do their own math to argue for its statistical insignificance.

From a Calvinist perspective, everything God allows by His providence is positively ordained by Him. Even of humanly fixed lotteries.

This lottery coincidence seems so outstanding to me personally, that I can't help but think there almost HAS to be human fixing of the results involved. Either that or an especial Divine providence (rather than ordinary Divine providence).

[[My revised view:   From my Calvinist perspective it could be mere "coincidence" such that it happened by God's ordinary providence without human intervention. But it seems to me that it is more likely 1. a case of God's ordinary providence by human fixing; 2. it was a case of God's special providence with special meaning or 3. God's extraordinary providence with special meaning.]]

I haven't read both articles in a while, but browsing the Snopes article, it does say there was a midday drawing. It also says, "Lottery officials said that 5,631 people had selected the symbolic numbers, and each winner took home $500." This reminds me of the scene in the movie Bruce Almighty where so many people won the lottery that they only got something like $17 instead of millions. LOL!

Steve wrote:
One of the enigmatic features of divine providence is the apparent randomness of divine providence. There are two popular explanations for this phenomenon. One is atheism.


There are, however, some fundamental problems with that explanation..............There's ample evidence for answered prayer. What's puzzling is their often inscrutable distribution in time and place.

Steve is absolutely right. Here's a link to one of my blogs:

Testimonies of the Supernatural Among Respected Christian Leaders (some of whom are cessationists)

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