The Pope resigns, lightning strikes the Vatican, and atheists call it a mere coincidence. WTF?!?

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

― Albert Einstein, The World as I See It

When lightning struck the Vatican two days ago, only hours after the Pope’s shocking public resignation, I sent out a tweet asking if non-believers were brave enough to simply write it off as an ‘insane coincidence’. The responses I received were all in the affirmative, the most humourous of which came from a dear friend and unconvincing atheist, who replied:

Yes mate, coincidence. Reckon that lightening rod would be struck by lightening more often than you think

While extremely humourous, this comment is also widely reflective of how atheists so readily dismiss even the most incredible of occurrences as ‘merely coincidence’. Unlike the justifiable doubt surrounding things like Marian apparitions and demigods walking on water, lightning striking the Vatican on the day of the first resignation by a pope in 600 years should be given more respect, even by the most generic, stereotypical scumbag atheist.

The thing that pisses me off the most about atheists is that when the religious believe something, atheists ask if it can be proven, which it usually can not. When something can be proven, it is dismissed as meaningless coincidence. This speaks volumes to the extreme bias and shallowness of spirit with which atheists live their lives. There is no wonder. There can be no miracles. Nothing is extraordinary. Arguments against religion work in endless circles citing political wrongs and so-called ridiculous unproven beliefs.

Imagine this hypothetical scenario: On the day of the Pope’s resignation lightning struck the Vatican, yet nobody managed to get a photo of it. Fortunately many witnesses were present, and they immediately took to telling everybody they knew about the coincidence they had just witnessed. Word spread and believers everywhere were left amazed at this sure sign from God. The atheists however, in the absence of proof, doubted the event calling it preposterous religious propaganda. The event, as true as it was, was destined to doubt for rest of human history.

A real event, a real coincidence, dismissed as religious propaganda. This is the state of religion vs atheism today. For thousands of years we have witnessed the incredible, the out-of-this-world, but without the technology to record it, it is to this day dismissed as bullshit. Now that we have the technology to register the incredible, it is dismissed as mere coincidence and inconsequential occurrence.

To my dear atheists, I ask you to consider the possibility probability that amazing shit does happen in this world, and has done so since before you were born (yes, the world existed before you). Consider that we do not know everything, that science exists only to prove the provable, and that there is a strong likelihood that what you see with your own eyes is not all there is.

Coincidence serves as a fundamental guide to us to make the right decisions in life, and to follow certain paths. You don’t have to believe in God to believe in coincidence, you need simply believe that there is more to life than the blatantly obvious.

, ,

51 Responses to “The Pope resigns, lightning strikes the Vatican, and atheists call it a mere coincidence. WTF?!?”

  1. Seamus Ruah
    March 3, 2013 at 10:19 AM #

    Yes, exactly that.
    You’re attempt to quote Einstein is fail as well, try harder.

    • Toma
      March 3, 2013 at 10:25 AM #

      Can you be more specific?

      • John
        March 3, 2013 at 11:33 AM #

        Einstein didn’t believe in any sort of deity

        ” I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

      • me
        October 16, 2013 at 9:47 AM #

        Depression is not real. It is something that exists in people’s minds. It can not be seen or touched or identified by sight or spirit in the real word. It’s all in people’s heads

        the same could be said for your god my friend. as well as spirit itself. stop pushing your beliefs on people. you will find that in the end it is a very unsatisfying selfishness you have for people to agree with you.

        • Toma
          October 20, 2013 at 10:51 PM #

          I agree that the same could be said of God and the human spirit. And if God does not exist, and the human spirit does not exist, then I am easily as full of shit as you all believe. But if they do exist…

          • Benjamin
            April 6, 2014 at 11:54 AM #

            The point he was making is that your double-standards are remarkably transparent and hypocritical.

    • tobana4
      July 23, 2013 at 4:25 AM #

      What is stopping us liberating Medjugorje from freak whether? Children need peace not mass debate. Thank you, I’m justifiable. World peace and God save us.

  2. Toma
    March 3, 2013 at 12:01 PM #

    Thank you for your comments. John, I find it so very ironic when atheists accuse Christians of over-quoting the bible, then quote their own bible, namely The God Delusion.

    To Seamus, in the absence of any elaboration on your part, I say that I did not ‘attempt’ to quote Einsten. I did quote Einstein.

    A man’s words are everything. You can go ahead and quote the things that Einsten said that suit your arguments (as your high priest Richard Dawkins does), and I shall do the same. Whether Einstein changed his perspective on things has little relevance. His words were correct when he stated them, and remain eternally truthful.

    • Mark
      March 3, 2013 at 12:58 PM #

      “then quote their own bible, namely The God Delusion.”

      I haven’t read the thing, and personally I don’t like Richard Dawkins. Don’t generalise, please.

    • Ciaran MacAoidh
      January 4, 2014 at 2:55 AM #

      “Their own bible…” Hmmm. I’m a little disappointed. I came to your blog after googling ‘psychological bullshit’ but after reading a few posts I’m likely not coming back. You generalise an awful lot (not least on this page) and the leap to a connection between the choice of a man to leave his position voluntarily and a common weather phenomenon is really a bit much. Your “unconvincing” dear atheist friend wasn’t really being humourous: lightening rods are designed to catch lightening. If the lightening came out of nowhere or skipped the rod and hit the building you could begin to see something odd but this passes ‘religion’ and goes into the territory of base superstition. Is God angry? If so why miss the building? Is God happy and supportive of Benedict’s decision? If so why use dangerous and frightening fireworks that are open to misinterpretation as aggression?

      Atheists often love ‘amazing’ things (though your use of the term real coincidence is fairly redundant because coincidence just means seemingly related things happening: who has a problem with that?); many of us embrace wonder and mystery; all of us know the universe existed before us and will go on after us. These are all false arguments. Maybe some atheists are incredibly stupid, or dishonest or narcissistic but to suggest that it is common is dishonest and unfair.

      • Toma
        January 4, 2014 at 9:42 AM #

        I’m curious. Why you were googling ‘psychological bullshit’?

        If I were to tell you that all black people are good athletes, it would be a generalisation. If I were to tell you that all black people are born with souls, it would be the truth, albeit one you may not be willing to accept. The arguments presented on this site are presented as truths due to their applicability in each and every instance. Your lack of acceptance makes them no less so.

    • Benjamin
      April 6, 2014 at 11:56 AM #

      The God Delusion is not not the atheist Bible. The Bible is necessary for being a Christian. Many atheists have never heard of the God Delusion. This comparison is absurd…

  3. Mark
    March 3, 2013 at 12:56 PM #

    Rare occurrences happen. Constantly. You were a single sperm which was the first to get to a specific egg out of millions of sperms. For you to have turned out with the exact genes you have, your grandparent’s specific sperm needed to hit a specific egg. And your great grandparents. And your great great great great great great great…

    Things with low chances of happening happen. In my opinion, it IS an amazing coincidence that lightning hit the Vatican soon after the pope resigned. And I can also see why you personally believe it was a sign of your specific God, out of the thousands which humanity has created. And I can respect that you believe that.

    “To my dear atheists, I ask you to consider the probability that amazing shit does happen in this world”

    Amazing shit DOES happen. Amazing shit HAS to happen. Amazing shit WILL happen. It doesn’t, however, prove that a god is behind it.

    “and has done so since before you were born (yes, the world existed before you).”

    Why the hell did you add (yes, the world existed before you)? Why are you attempting to make atheists look foolish?

    “My name is Toma. I used to write about technology. Now I mostly write about the human spirit and why atheism is bullshit.”

    Was them last 5 words neccessary? Why do you feel the need to personally INSULT atheists? Ofcourse, you’re free to do so, as I am free to do so against your religion, but I chose not to. I haven’t once said in this post that Christianity, or any other of the hundreds of religions, are bullshit. I’d say: In my personally opinion, they are untrue. Instead of the hostile “why atheism is bullshit”, you could write “and why athesists are wrong”. But hey, it’s up to you. Take the hostile approach if it suites your writing style.

    You are free to believe that all rare occurrences MUST be an act of your God, and I am free to think that in the millions of years Earth has existed, with all of the millions of causes and effects happening each hour, that something that has a 0.00000000001% chance of happening WILL happen. And a lot more often than you and I think.

    If a God DID exist, I’d like to think that he or she (also, why not consider the option of genderless? It isn’t like your male God NEEDS a penis) would prefer atheists who lead good lives, helping people (as I attempt to do) and not harming people (I don’t even step on ants) over Christians who go out personally attacking those who chose not to believe. But that’s just what I think.

    Quick questions: Why do Popes get to sit on thrones in their mansion when Jesus said in the Bible how it is hard for the rich to get into Heaven (going from memory here. I know he said something to that effect)? The Pope, to me, seems like a personally insult to REAL people who follow God, such as Jesus and Mother Theresa.

    One lost note: I’m not the best writer, or very good at explaining things. If something I wrote was wrong, please point it out, but one (or three) wrong paragraphs doesn’t mean my whole post is worthless.

    Well, that turned out long. Have a nice day Tom, looking forward to your response. And just because I don’t believe in your God (or the other thousand), doesn’t mean I’m hateful. When I help people, I do it without the promise of Heaven.

    • Toma
      March 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM #

      This comment is amazing. It’s full of sincerity and I thank you for sharing your thoughts on the matter. Respect.

      Much of what you said is precisely what drives me insane about atheism. For just about anything that happens there can be and usually is a scientific reference. Citing statistical probability is one of them. It’s very much akin to me denying somebody getting AIDS has a scientific explanation and simply saying ‘It’s the way God wanted it’, or alternatively if I were to deny the effectiveness of modern medicine by saying ‘God wanted him/her to get better’. Science and the human spirit are as real as each other. There is simply too much connectivity in the world to all be a statistical anomaly. The difference between me and an atheist is that sometimes crazy shit happens and I am the first one to say that it has a worldly explanation. You will never ever ever hear an atheist reference the spiritual in explaining the uncommon. Lightning striking the Vatican on that day was more than scientific.

      I often tread lightly when speaking to people about religion and coincidence, because you never know what will or will not offend. When writing however I find myself not wanting to tiptoe about. Quite frankly I call atheism bullshit because I think it is. Perhaps I could word myself more intellectually but I have a penchant for writing as I speak. Atheism is as hypocritical as any of the religions it stands against. Unfortunately this is the case with all large bodies. Once bureaucracy enters everything goes to shit. This is also why we see such a strong new age movement in the world today. The human spirit does not respond well to bureaucracy.

      I suggest having a squiz at my article titled The Truth about The Truth.

      http://www.tomahaiku.com/the-truth-about-the-truth/

      I can’t say ‘atheism is wrong’ because it sounds too factual. Saying it’s bullshit better expresses my subjectivity on the matter.

      To understand my statement about there being a world before atheists you should read my article about The Centre.

      http://www.tomahaiku.com/explaining-god-selflessness-and-the-human-ego-the-centre/

      Quite simply, religion is about having a centre which is greater than ourselves. If you believe in something greater than yourself then that is most probably your God, meaning you are not an atheist. If you do not believe in something greater than yourself then you are your own centre, making you self-centred.

      In your case, that you won’t even step on ants, you have a very Buddhist mindset in that you see the inter-connectivity between yourself and things around you. This means there is a God somewhere in your beliefs but you are yet to identify with it. Look deeper and you will find it.

      Let me say that Catholics who judge tend to be the ones who aren’t proper practicing Catholics. If they were they wouldn’t be judging. I therefore consider them fake Catholics. They pay lip service, but God doesn’t give a shit about lip service. Every religion has these people and they are an embarrassment, and they are the sole reason that religion is so misunderstood in the world today. It is misunderstood because it is mis-practiced. There is no defending them.

      • Mark
        March 3, 2013 at 2:31 PM #

        Obviously this short conversation with a stranger on the internet won’t convert either of us, but I’m glad that we can both come to an understanding that not all Christians and atheists are hateful. I still think it was a rare occurrence that lightning striked the Vatican that day, and I completely understand why you think that’s absolute bullshit.

        “This means there is a God somewhere in your beliefs but you are yet to identify with it. Look deeper and you will find it.”

        Humans don’t need a God to have morals.

        • Toma
          March 3, 2013 at 2:35 PM #

          I absolutely agree, Mark. Humans do not need God to have morals. My best friend, who is also by far and away the most moral person I know, does not believe in God, yet not even he will go near the subject of explaining the source of morality or the human spirit without a God. What science can’t explain, it ignores.

          • Mark
            March 3, 2013 at 3:40 PM #

            The source of morality? I’m not quite sure I know what you mean, but I’ll try to explain how having morals is a very primal thing which has nothing to do with spirituality.

            Most creatures look after their offspring and would defend them to the death. Some creatures would even adopt a baby of another species if it knew it was in trouble. These acts show that humans aren’t the only animal that have morals. Ofcourse, animals aren’t completely moral (neither are humans) but they can sometimes display good morals.

            Yet no animal, apart from some/most humans, believes in a soul, a spirit, a god or an afterlife. They look after their young because it is a very primal thing to do. They don’t consider that they are being ‘good’, they are doing what they are programmed to do.

            Why do people go “awwww!” when they look at pictures of cute baby animals? Animals are programmed to view babies as cute. It makes them want to care for the baby, which usually is neccessary in a hostile, wild environment for the baby’s survival. Ofcourse, I can’t care for a puppy if I’m only looking at a picture at it, so I will instead smile, or even let out an “awwww!” at an attempt to physically care for it.

            Animals do the same thing. They see a baby (which might not be of their species) and they might care for it. This is a very moral act, yet the animal doesn’t understand the concept of morals. They don’t draw morality from a god or a spirit. It’s just primal.

            “What science can’t explain, it ignores.”

            If scientists can’t explain something, they will try to find an explanation for it.

            A century ago scientists couldn’t explain why everybody looks different, why you was born with a disease or why identicle twins are the only people in the world who will ever share the same fingerprint. Two scientists worked very damn hard until they finally discovered the double helix model (or whatever

            Scientists don’t ignore. They explore. Saying that science ignores what it can’t explanation is very ignorant.

            The problem I have with debating with believers is that no matter how much evidence that is thrown at them that points towards the non-existance of a god, they will still believe. Alternatively, if a giant finger pointed out of the sky at me saying “Hi. I’m God” I wouldn’t continue to NOT believe. I would be willing to change my stance, and a believer wouldn’t be. This makes any debates with believers fairly one-sided and pointless.

            Similiarly, scientists can’t prove that there is NOT another race of exactly identicle humans out there on another planet because the universe is too big to explore. However, if we found them, we can safely say that they do exist. We can’t say for sure that they don’t even though there is a better chance of a monkey typing out the entire works of Shakespear on a typewriter given unlimited time without a single typo.

            It was nice having a chat anyway, you turned out to be nicer than expected. When I first saw the “Post waiting for approval from moderation” (or whatever it said) I expected my post to be deleted. Thanks for chatting with me. Have a nice day.

          • Simone
            March 3, 2013 at 11:15 PM #

            Morality has been around for longer than religion. That’s the explanation.

          • dil
            September 29, 2013 at 11:12 AM #

            have you studied philosophy? You should read about Socrates and his teachings, it may give you more of an understanding of morales.

            • dil
              September 29, 2013 at 11:13 AM #

              morals*

  4. Mark
    March 3, 2013 at 1:07 PM #

    ^Re-reading through it. So many typos… wish there was an edit button. I’m a perfectionists and it annoys me SO much. Always proof-read!

  5. Mark
    March 3, 2013 at 4:06 PM #

    I was too stupid to point this out before, but it’s a tall building with an iron rod on it.

    T_T

    • dil
      September 29, 2013 at 11:03 AM #

      Mark, I’ve read the comments you’ve posted on this article. Your comments, in my opinion, are far more insightful than any article on this webpage.

  6. BrettWM
    March 4, 2013 at 7:01 AM #

    Lightning struck the “Touchdown Jesus” statue a while back and it burned to the ground. I don’t view that as proof that Zeus is real and he’s pissed at all this Jesus crap. It was a multi story lightning rod, it being hit by lightning was hardly shocking. I’m always a little taken aback when believers latch onto things like this. “That thing that happens al the time? Sometimes it happens in proximity with an event that I consider significant. It must be proof of (Insert name of belief here).” Is this site some kind of parody, or are you actually being serious?

  7. Jessie
    March 8, 2013 at 7:40 PM #

    So you do believe in evolution. Because science HAS proven that.

    • Toma
      March 8, 2013 at 8:45 PM #

      Hey Jessie. Not in the slightest. And I think you’ll find that science hasn’t in fact proven it.

      • Jessie Green
        March 9, 2013 at 1:03 AM #

        Not at all. If I thought that you were open minded I might explain to you in the ways in which science has proven it…but that would clearly be a waste of time seeing as how the data is all already out there.

        Also, I am trying to believe that lightening hitting the Vatican was anything other than a coincidence… But did the storm system pop out of nowhere? Because I highly doubt the Vatican getting hit by lightening is any kind of anomaly. It’s only noteworthy the day that the pope resigns.

        • Toma
          March 9, 2013 at 7:50 AM #

          Correct. But TWICE in a day, and on a day that has only happened twice in 600 years. What are the odds? I’m asking literally, what is the statistical probability of that happening?

        • Toma
          March 9, 2013 at 8:00 AM #

          Sorry mate I didn’t address your comment about evolution. If it had been proven don’t you think I’d believe in it? I and billions of others that is. If we, the non believers, were a minority you could probably write it off to stupidity or insanity, but there are too many of us to ignore our denial.

          My question to atheists is, do you ever try to understand why we don’t buy into evolution, or are we all simply written off as crazy?

          • Jessie
            March 11, 2013 at 3:54 AM #

            I assume that those who do not believe in evolution take the bible literally. Or at least pick and choose the parts that they are going to take literally. But no, I don’t understand why some Christian’s do not believe in evolution. However, I do know dozens of people that believe in God as well as evolution.

            Also, it would be very subjective to factor in the number of people who do not believe in evolution when making up one’s mind on whether or not they deem it fact or fiction. I think that you will find that if you are objective when approaching this subject, and do look at the data that has been presented in support of evolution, that you will recognize the merit of this theory.

            And while I am sure that I will come to regret posting this link (only because I am sure you will infer that I am insinuating anything about your intelligence, and I am most assuredly not), I will do so anyway because I find it to be a very concise summation of why people believe in evolution… and it’s based on data. I think that there are so many who dismiss evolution simply due to close mindedness because they believe that if they accept it…then they must dismiss the notion that God created Homo sapiens and we were not created through speciation. And who wants to risk an eternity in hell for coming to that conclusion.

            http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/01/18/145338804/why-do-so-many-have-trouble-with-evolution

            As for the probability of the Vatican being hit twice in the same day by lightening…I will have to do some more research on this topic. I doubt data exists to trace back every time the Vatican has been hit by lightening over the past 600 years. But I’m sure that there has been enough research on lightening strikes…I will familiarize myself with it and report back.

            FYI. Thank you very much for this conversation. I appreciate the opportunity for civil debate.

            • Toma
              March 11, 2013 at 2:38 PM #

              Thanks Jessie.

              I am in the process of writing a new article that will address my thoughts on your comment. I’ll let you know when it’s up. I’ll give you a spoiler and say that there is no resolving this debate. The article will give an in-depth explanation as to why.

              I had a look at the link. I remember discussing with somebody once the possibility that the seven days of creation in fact refer to seven periods of evolution, meaning there is a possible correlation between creationism and evolution. My understanding is that the idea has been debunked. Nonetheless the suggestion is intriguing, perhaps more so for Christians that for atheists.

            • Toma
              March 13, 2013 at 10:53 PM #

              Hey Jessie. I have written a post inspired by your comment. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts.

              Why atheists and Christians will never agree

            • gopal
              December 10, 2013 at 10:48 PM #

              “I assume that those who do not believe in evolution take the bible literally.”

              First off: you don’t “believe” in science because science is measured, weighed, recorded, observed, and reproduceable. You “believe” in evoloution because you “believe” in science. Science is essentially observable – you can believe that the sky is purple, but the point is that it is blue. We don’t believe in science: we accept it because we are rational creatures. What we don’t accept is people stating that Evolution is science – it is not a question of belief; it is a question of reason.

              Evolution is not science. It cannot even be a theory. It is – at best and that would be streaching – a supposition. There is no way that it can be held up as a theory.

              Gravity is a theory. There is no way to prove it without destroying the entire universe while keeping yourself intact and then recreating it without interfering with the creation. However, all observable data and repeatable experiments are consistent and fit the model of gravity – this is a valid theory.

              The Big Bang is a theory. All observable and measurable data fit in with the Big Bang model – it can be demonstrated, but not proved. Hence it’s a valid theory.

              It is ironic that what you tout as science is as about as unscientific as you can get. Evolution:
              – cannot be observed
              – cannot be measured
              – cannot be reproduced
              – cannot be simulated
              – cannot be stimulated
              – does not have any historical records to support the idea

              Darwin pulled it out his arse and the widely accepted culture of eugenics was prevalent in the ruling class of the British Empire was ripe to swallow this BS.

  8. Eve
    March 13, 2013 at 10:05 PM #

    I’d just like to add a mere correction, though quite subjective, that not all atheists such as myself, live as shallow spirited individuals with little awe and amazement to fill their lives… I would argue quite the contrary. The overwhelming depth of intricacy housed with a human’s body for instance, grants such intrigue. The boundless details that emerge daily in scientific literature, whether it be the neuronal networks controlling motor development in humans, hyperthermophiles living in geysers, and any research coming out of CERN. Well, all of these are examples are scientifically researched topics, and yet carry with them immense personal adoration and respect for the world. Pardon me if a small population of humans, decides to ascribe meaning to two events in this world having no possible relevance to one another, and then decide to rejoice over it. You should do well to not generalize, as I believe has already been made aware of in previous statements.

  9. Steven Masone (@Watchman444)
    March 15, 2013 at 12:16 AM #

    I forget the mathematician who estimated the odds of the universe coming from nothing in a Big Bang explosion were greater than a printing press company exploding and a Bible is formed perfectly by the aftermath. But of course even Science will not convince a true atheist, as it more about their hate of God than unbelief. An agnostic has true unbelief,,,an atheist has satanic rebellion as their core issue.

    • Toma
      March 15, 2013 at 5:45 AM #

      While I know exactly what you mean, to them you sound like a crazy person, which I find ironic.

    • Ben Cooper
      April 6, 2014 at 12:04 PM #

      I’m an atheist. I don’t hate God. How can I hate something if I don’t believe it exists? Your statement absurd… Good job rationalizing your beliefs with an arbitrary judgmental prejudice.

  10. jdedeusbrasil
    April 1, 2013 at 10:11 PM #

    A very nice discussion here! Believers and atheists will never cease to eagerly defend their points of view…which is just fine as long as they keep a respectful debate. I was an atheist in my youth, but I was lucky enough to find the Truth and have attempted to give my testimony to all those willing to listen. Keep up the good job, Toma. Hope we will keep connected. God bless!

  11. Michael
    May 23, 2013 at 6:19 PM #

    When I first read the question asking if it is coincidence that lightning hits the spire of St. Peter’s Basilica on the same day that the pope resigns… it struck me as rather strange. What else would it be? To imply that it is not coincidence would seem to imply that there is some kind of causal link between the pope’s resignation and the lightning events. While it is true that we cannot predict or even trace all the consequences of our actions, it seems a bit of a stretch to imply the pope’s resignation set in motion a chain of events which altered weather patterns in a specific way such that charge distributions during a particular storm would result in the Basilica being struct twice in a day. And in fact we can probably be fairly confident that such a causal connection does not exist due to the close proximity of the pope and the building being struck. In other words, to alter the weather pattern would require a change in initial conditions far from the Vatican, in the direction of the origin of the storm.

    Still, we cannot really know for sure. The amount of computation required to solve the equations and the accuracy of knowledge of the initial conditions is beyond what is possible in this reality. What we can do with the tools we have is to establish a statistical model. To do this, it would be necessary to gather historical data on the number of days lightning has struck the spire around the time of year that the pope has resigned, as well as the number of times lightning has struck on any given day that any lightning has struck. From this would could estimate how likely it was to strike on the day of the resignation, as well as how likely the second strike was. This would allows us to build up a confidence level in saying either it was a coincidence or not.

    Still, I suspect that this may not be what you had in mind at all. Maybe you are implying that there was no physical causality between the pope’s resignation and the lightning. Perhaps you are implying that it was a supernatural event, that God caused the lightning in response to the pope’s actions. If this is the case, then taking atheists to task for calling it a coincidence seems a bit strange as well. It is like telling someone that something that happened is proof of your belief system, when their world view has an alternate explanation which they have studied and are satisfied with, and then not understanding why they don’t suddenly abandon their view and agree with you. In any case, one does not even have to be an atheist to be skeptical of claims of lightning of supernatural origin – certain religious sects would say such a thing is like superstition, or would disagree with the idea that God intervenes supernaturally in the world (as opposed to, for example, intervening in the hearts of individuals).

    But in any case, even supposing that it was true that the lightning strike was caused by God in response to the pope’s resignation, what does that even mean? Is it a display of God’s displeasure at the pope resigning? Is it a display of God’s displeasure at the pope, and an affirmation that he should resign? Maybe God just wanted to inspire the crowd to prepare to the next pope, or argue amongst themselves as to whether or not it was a sign of some kind. Or maybe God is Protestant, and is just taking this opportunity to smite the Vatican’s iconic basilica?

    • Toma
      May 24, 2013 at 8:43 AM #

      Michael, thank you for contributing to an already excellent string of comments. I especially applaud you for being the first to ask what I actually think the event was or meant.

      I most certainly believe that there was supernatural intervention. While I am certain that God is not capable of changing our free will, I am also certain that he is capable of influencing it, and this is what I deem such coincidences to be. The greater the statistical improbability, the more likely, in my opinion, that it has a very real supernatural aspect to it (obviously not always, but much of the time). In such circumstances something ceases to be termed ‘a coincidence’ and becomes ‘a sign’, hence my use of the term ‘mere coincidence’ in the title. Obviously
      it was a coincidence, but not simply a mere coincidence, but rather a sign.

      I believe that coincidences are intended to do one of two things. They either guide us by more or less telling us what we should do, or they awaken us to something of great importance so as to cause us to pay more attention. I believe this was the latter. I don’t know what it meant. Should we not trust the new pope? Should we embrace him fully? Or should we simply pay close attention and remain attentive to the happenings surrounding the Catholic faith?

      Of course I am not naive enough to think I sound perfectly sane to those who view such events with complete rationality and no belief in the spiritual, but I have been guided by too many coincidences in my life to not know them to be as true as they are supernatural. As has every atheist alive, I might add. The difference betweem us is our attentiveness to such events. Atheists call them a coincidence and carry on as they were. I call them signs, wonder about their meaning/significance, and allow my subsequent actions to be influenced by them.

      • Ben Cooper
        April 6, 2014 at 12:35 PM #

        So you make up a story, then explain something you experienced using the story you made up and claim this is evidence for the story you made up. Great thinking. Using that method of reasoning anyone could believe in anything and be justifying in claiming to ‘know’ they’re right.

        • Toma
          April 7, 2014 at 1:54 PM #

          Sounds like scientific theory to me.

  12. Cleo
    June 18, 2013 at 8:08 AM #

    I realize it’s an old post, but here goes:

    Lightning strikes tall buildings more often than short ones. The Basilica is around 450 feet tall, and is the largest building in the area. It has a lightning rod, making it the most likely path for nearby lightning to follow to the ground.

    “A lot of lightning bolts hit the Basilica.” – Archbishop Comastri, June, 2005.
    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0503533.htm

    I also found this interesting history of lightning rods and churches. Churches tend to be the tallest structures around and are thus prone to lightning strikes.
    http://www.miltontimmons.com/ChruchesVsLightningRod.html

    Try doing google searches for things like “cathedral struck by lightning”, “church struck by lightning”, and “mosque struck by lightning”. There are many interesting stories about how people interpret these events.

    Regards.

  13. B-dawg
    August 1, 2013 at 2:58 PM #

    So f***ing what… lightning struck the highest point in Vatican City during a thunderstorm. Maybe if it had happened on a cloudless sunny afternoon, I’d be impressed.
    Or maybe not. I’ve had weirder coincidences that this event, which were totally pointless and certainly not a “message from God” (like the time me and a friend were reminiscing about the Dungeon Master we used to game with 5 years previously – and hadn’t seen or heard from since that time – and saying we sure enjoyed those days… and exactly one week later, said Dungeon Master called he my buddy’s cell phone, saying he was back in town and asking if he and I want to come game that weekend!)
    Coincidences happen! Big whoopdee-do.

    • Toma
      August 1, 2013 at 3:01 PM #

      By ignoring them you are missing many great opportunities to make your life better.

      • Ben Cooper
        April 6, 2014 at 12:09 PM #

        He’s not ignoring them. He just doesn’t make up stories to explain why they happened like you do.

  14. Ozzer
    January 11, 2014 at 7:48 AM #

    So God, sitting upstairs in heaven, is pissed off that the Pope resigns, and so decides to fire a lightening bolt at the Vatican to show his anger….

    If he has this powers, why didn’t he fire a lightening bolt down at Hitler/Stalin etc? He could have saved a few million lives in the 20th century with one or two shots. Instead he just sat and watched?

    So he’s more bothered about a Pope retiring due to old age than picking off bad eggs who kill millions of innocent people?

    You may be right, but in which case, are you sure you really love this guy?

  15. Mike
    April 6, 2014 at 7:38 PM #

    I’m not sure I understand why you connect a lightning bolt with the Pope resigning. What do they have in common? How do you know that was a sign from God? Maybe the sign from God about the Pope resigning was the butterfly that landed on a table in a nearby cafe? Maybe nobody got a photo of it, or thought to link it to God, but maybe that was the message he sent. It seems kind of arrogant to assume that you can interpret these things.

    Maybe God is not a Catholic and doesn’t care that the Pope resigned. It seems pretty easy to read whatever you want into whatever you want, and for someone so assertive about their beliefs that things like depression are selfishness, well in my eyes assuming you can read God’s messages is arrogant. Maybe my soda fizzing over is a sign from God that your website is an affront to God’s true intentions. Why is a lightning bolt hitting a rooftop more wonderous than my soda fizzing over, both are just things happening in the world.

    • Toma
      April 6, 2014 at 7:53 PM #

      God’s messages are meant to be seen and read. Doing so is not arrogant, it is enlightened.

      I do agree with much of what you say in the ‘maybes’. A lot of things are maybe, and maybe God’s truest followers are Catholics, and maybe he was asking them to stay attentive, maybe they saw the signs, and maybe they are listening to them. With so many maybes on both sides, the best we can do is to present our arguments and let them play out.

      Two lightning bolts struck the Vatican that day, and it was a day that the world would be watching. The presence of something extraordinary was clear. And for those short on faith, the statistical odds of it are extraordinary.

Don't agree with me? Tell me why. Your opinion matters.

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.