In their 1989 paper “Methods for Studying Coincidences,” math professors Persi Diaconis and Frederick Mosteller defined a coincidence as a “surprising concurrence of events, perceived as meaningfully related, with no apparent causal connection.”
Scientific statement, but not satisfying to those of who’ve experienced God-incidences and/or deja vu.
- John Adams and Thomas Jefferson Both Died on the 50th Anniversary of Independence Day
Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson seemingly shared some kind of cosmic connection. After striking up a friendship at the 1775 Continental Congress, they teamed up to draft the Declaration of Independence, concurrently served in Europe as American diplomats, and became the second and third U.S. Presidents, respectively, before partisan fighting drove them apart. But they reignited a regular correspondence in their golden years through the cusp of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on July 4, 1826. That day, as he lay on his deathbed, Adams reportedly delivered his final words, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” not realizing his old friend and former rival had passed away a few hours earlier.
2. Mark Twain Entered and Exited the World With Halley’s Comet
Two weeks after Halley’s Comet passed its November 1835 perihelion — the point of orbit closest to the sun — a boy named Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri. Clemens went on to worldwide fame as Mark Twain, but there was no slowing the passage of time, and in 1909, the septuagenarian author told his biographer that he expected an astronomical bookending to his days. “It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet,” he revealed. “The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'” The Almighty must have listened, and on April 21, 1910, one day after Halley’s Comet again reached its perihelion, Twain died from a heart attack at age 74.
3. Wilmer McLean Hosted the First Major Battle and Formal Conclusion of the Civil War
Northern Virginia plantation owner Wilmer McLean was happy to cede his grounds to pro-slavery Confederates for what became the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. However, he was tired of the destruction by the time his plantation was again used for the follow-up battle in August 1862, and he moved his family south to the isolated village of Appomattox Court House the following year. Turns out he didn’t get quite far enough away from the action, as an aide to General Robert E. Lee requested the use of McLean’s new residence for a surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865.
4. The “Jim Twins” Led Remarkably Similar Lives
Finally, there’s the case of James Springer and James Lewis, identical twins who went their separate ways as infants through adoption yet went on to live eerily similar lives before reuniting at age 39. Each grew up with a brother named Larry, had a pet dog named Toy, went into law enforcement, and named his first-born son James Allan (with slightly different spellings). And even if you chalk some of those matches up to genetic disposition, it doesn’t quite explain how each twin somehow married a woman named Linda before following with a second wife named Betty, or how both settled on the same vacation spot at a small beach in St. Petersburg, Florida, more than 1,000 miles away from where they were separately reared in Ohio.
So, let’s apply this to my recent book, peeps. What’s the more plausible explanation for Bad-Ass Amy winning a mega-million-dollar lottery on her first day of parole: Science or God-incidence?
Neither. The notion was all in my writerly head… propelled by my prodigious imagination!