As an undergraduate I went on a date to see a famous “mentalist”. I find magicians entertaining. My date was eager to show me proof of the supernatural. I was entertained and she found her evidence.
His first feat was to control the minds of two volunteers. He had asked the promoters to provide a selection of decks of cards. Two volunteers each chose a deck and shuffled them. The volunteers sat at desks a few feet apart, each with a face-down deck.
The mentalist then remembered that the effect was difficult if the decks contained any jokers so he quickly removed them.
Each volunteer was asked to cut the deck about a third of the way into the pack and turn those cards over, placing them face up on top of the rest of the deck. Then they were to repeat the process, cutting past the face-up cards and turn them over again.
Finally, he used his mind to command the volunteers to remove the face-up cards so as to find the first face-down card.
Amazingly, they both had found the eight of clubs.
“See,” said she.
“I see,” said I.
He asked the audience to think of a number between one and one hundred, both digits odd but not the same. For example, 15 and 91 would be OK but 55 was not. We all thought of a number.
“I can sense many of you are thinking of 37… or perhaps 73. Raise your hand if I am right?”
Many hands went up. Not all, but certainly more than one percent.
She was thinking of 37. I was thinking of 88. She was much better than me at following instructions..
“Do the math,” she said.
“I have,” I said.
I left amused. She left with a renewed faith.
While in graduate school I saw an act called the Asparagus Valley Cultural Society featuring two magicians who would later work together as Penn and Teller. They claimed to be no more than entertainers. They were very entertaining.
In 2005, thirty years after first seeing him on stage, I heard Penn Jillette’s essay on National Public Radio entitled “There is no God.”
Like many people, he and I believe there is no God.
But I do believe in providence even though one definition is: “a manifestation of God’s foresightful care for his creatures.”
In high school, I imagined I would find something in college that would excite my passions. Three years later I did.
I imagined I could make a living at it, and for thirty years I have.
I imagined I would find a woman to love and ten years later I did.
We imagined having wonderful children and we have.
I imagined writing stories for them and I have.
I imagined that someone would be interested in publishing some of those stories and at Sea-Tac airport I met Catherine Wayland and she did. Here they are.
If you imagine that there is a foresightful God looking out for you, you will find ample evidence that there is. Even if there isn’t.
You don’t need to believe in God to trust in providence.