Does Being Lucky Equate Proof of the Supernatural?

I had a rather troubling week in which I kept losing things because of my absentmindedness.

On Monday, I left my notebook on a desk and walked right out of the classroom. I can’t describe the importance of this notebook. I had to drive all the way back to campus to retrieve it. When I got to the classroom, there it sat, with my pencil sitting on top of the open page.

On Wednesday, I left the same classroom leaving my VGA cable behind. When I realized it was gone, I went to the tech office to have them track it down. In this manner, the cable was returned after waiting for a while.

But then suddenly, as I left this very situation — feeling rather odd with the notebook fiasco in mind — I realized I had to go to the restroom. Here I set my computer bag on a shelf, and it wasn’t until I got home that I realized, the bag was missing! Under the pressures of my anxiety I drove once again, all the way back to campus, thinking about what a mess I’ve been with forgetting things. I felt like something was out to get me, some force that was angry with me and getting revenge. I was able to trace in my mind the last place I’d seen the bag, and with immense relief, there I found it, in the restroom. Someone had definitely done some perusing because it was on the floor, tucked in a corner. I grabbed it with ferocious speed and to my surprise, my computer was still there.

As I made my way back to my vehicle, those old thoughts came pouring back into my mind. Was I lucky? Was karma at work? Was there a supernatural explanation involved? The loss of my computer would have been dreadful, awful. But there it was, in my car as I drove home. So I found myself thinking critically on the matter and I had to conclude:

Luck

Luck cannot be an aspect of the supernatural because if we examine the attributes of luck, then we find that it is merely a connotative term for chance. When we consider the prospect of chance, then we have to take into consideration the elements that comprise instances that are based on chance.

In the case of my notebook, time was a factor. Had I waited overnight, my chances of recovering it would have been reduced. In addition, general human thought was another factor. At the time I left it behind, the reason for forgetting it was based on the distraction of the incoming group of students. My class was over; their’s was starting. The point is, that I myself have seen notebooks laying around classrooms and ignored them, and I suspect this is a student/teacher mantra in college. We’re all working on bettering ourselves and our lives. How does snatching something that doesn’t belong to us edify this mindset? The students who came in after me didn’t take the notebook because it wasn’t interesting to them; the progress of their lives was more important. And there may be the added factor that because more than one person saw it, the honesty card came into play. One person observing another looking over the notebook, this may have been a kind of all-seeing-eye apparatus in which a person could have stigmatized themselves by advertising the idea that they might take the notebook.

In the case of the VGA cable, this is the second time I’ve left it behind. Previously, I simply went back and picked it up; this time, I had to have the tech guys hunt it down for me, since the projector had been moved to another class. The real horror is not in losing the cable, it is in being absentminded twice within two days.

The laptop poses a more serious situation. I have critical information on this thing. To lose it would have been disastrous. When I found it, the relief was incredible.

But what do most people say when something critical like this happens, and matters turn out okay? Yes, that’s right, and I won’t say the words because the entire world knows them. At any rate, I had to shake twenty years of magical thinking for my five years of Atheism to process the emotions. And I realize, whatever luck was involved in regaining my laptop, it was based on factors of chance:

Again, time had been a factor. The second I noticed it was gone, I raced back to campus. Had I left it overnight: Sayonara. In addition, time worked in my favor in that it was late in the day, and classes were over in this section of the building. This means bathroom traffic was low. Still, someone had definitely spotted the bag. Yet this person, too, may have been imbued with that student/teacher mantra in which we know that people associated with college are, in most cases, people who don’t deserve to have their laptops stolen. This does not mean it does not happen, but the fact remains that the chances exist: that certain people are possessed of a mindset that inspires them to act morally. Since I don’t know who the person is, to hypothesize their inner beliefs would be foolish. As an Atheist, I probably would have taken the bag to the campus police; but I’m glad the person didn’t do that, because I would have lost more time from my busy evening.

What this all means is significant. Although I could have been ruined with the loss of critical data, I was not. But was I saved by principles of the supernatural? No. My speedy reactions and the factors of chance contributed to the chances of recovery.

If we consider the prospect of how “luck” has played out in my life, then I consider myself unlucky. For example, it is belief in the supernatural that separated me from my mother, ironically enough. I still don’t know her. Religion made sure of that. What about the accident that ruined my life? That wasn’t lucky. I am still trying to recover. I could go on and on but the fact remains, these incidents are not projected from astral spheres of magic, they are circumstances of chance. In this way, no one is either lucky or unlucky.

At any rate, the temptation to attribute events of “luck” to the supernatural is highly tempting, especially considering the prospect of offering some kind of thanks. But who do we thank? No one but ourselves, because the current age has not been able to produce even the most rudimentary experiment to prove the supernatural exists.

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This entry was posted in atheism, LIfe, philosophy, Psychology, religion, science. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Does Being Lucky Equate Proof of the Supernatural?

  1. john zande says:

    It is far too easy to see an external locus of control when things like this happen. We’re prone to finding agency working for that is the easiest (and cheapest) way to make meaning out of something seemingly meaningless.

    • LEjames says:

      Making meaning seems to be a huge factor that propagates the world of religion. It has been so ingrained that trying to think in a new way that reconsiders the prospect of meaning is positively strange.

      Even stranger is the point you make about the cop-out factor. And to think, this contributed to how it all started!

      • john zande says:

        Erring on the side of caution served us very well from an evolutionary perspective, but its a predictive skill that’s more than just a little noxious today.

      • LEjames says:

        The whole notion of “evolving” is based on acknowledging and acting on the need for change.

        Change. I think that’s what terrifies the religionists.

      • john zande says:

        I think that’s why i was so impressed with the Dali Lama’s words: ‎”If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change.”

        http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/12/opinion/12dalai.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      • LEjames says:

        The Dalai Lama writes: “If the author of that fourth-century treatise were writing today, I’m sure he would write the chapter on cosmology differently.”

        Crikey! If only a Yawehist could…

        But to finish this sentence would be blasphemy.

        The Dalai Lama is highly underrated in the world. He is brilliant in his thinking, and he is a great writer too, very articulate.

        Most pointedly, he is honest about the nature of religious principle.

      • john zande says:

        Agreed. I feel so embarrassed. He came to Australia and I saw him speak twice. The first was in a theater in Canberra. He started speaking, a minute or two later i was fast asleep. I never fall asleep at things, but out i went… for the whole thing! A few days later he was speaking on our campus. Determined i showed up, took my seat, he began speaking, and WHAM! Out i went again… fast asleep! I’m telling you, there’s something in his voice, some resonance, that destroyed my capacity to stay awake :)

      • LEjames says:

        You were being soothed by his lack of nonsense. That’s perfectly fine.

        Had it been Ham or WLC, they would have kept you awake, agitating you with their BS.

  2. Alice says:

    What a week! I’m glad everything turned out okay. I’ve had the worst weekend (money-wise) at my job since I started and I have to admit that it kind of felt like I am under some kind of “thing” (curse, karma, etc.). I don’t feel the opposite when things are going well though:)

  3. LEjames says:

    That is such a good point Alice…on the opposite side of the coin, I have no “strange feelings” about the fact that I finished my degree. I did the work and now it’s over. I’m proud, but I don’t sense powers of the supernatural at work.

    This doesn’t mean we can’t wish each other well and in that vein, I hope things go better next weekend at your job. Thank you for visiting, too. I know I fell out of existence for a minute there…I think that’s the way it is for all bloggers associated with college life.

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