Monday, October 08, 2018

Special providences

I often write about coincidence miracles. In an earlier age these went by the name of special providences. Here's a nice compact definition:

What used to be called "special providences," in which the extraordinary element lies not in any obvious violation of the causal closure of the physical world but rather in the auspicious timing of apparently independent events. Timothy McGrew, "Arguments from Providence and from Miracles: The State of the Art and the Uses of History," J.Walls & T. Dougherty, eds. Two Dozen (of so) Arguments for God (Oxford 2018), 345.


  1. A possible case of special providence happened to me just know. I sometimes write a verse citation, or a key word/phrase on back of my left hand as a kind of temporary "tattoo" to remind me of something I'm meditating on for a few days. Maybe yesterday or the day before that I looked up the word for "Hope" in Koine Greek. Depending on the form it includes elpidi / elpida / elpis / elpizei / helpidi. So, for the past few days I've have variations of the word "hope" written on my hand. Sometimes in Greek, today in in English using International Morse Code .... (H) --- (O).--. (P) . (E). Well, while I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed I came across a video in the group Popcorn Theology where it shows the ending credits of Predator (1987) set to the tune of the tv show Full House. It shows brief scenes of the various actors with their real names next to them. When lo and behold the female actress is named "Elpidia Carrillo". I wondered if the name Elpidia was related to the Greek word for hope. Doing a simple internet search confirmed that connection. Multiple sites say it means, "waits with faith". But one site them make the Greek connection to hope clear.

    This name derives from the Ancient Greek name “Elpídios (Ελπίδιος)”, meaning “one who is hopeful”, which in turn derives from the Ancient Greek “elpís (ἐλπίς)”, meaning “hope, expectation“. Elpis was the personification and spirit of hope. She was a child of Nyx and mother of Pheme, the goddess of fame, renown and rumor. She was depicted as a young woman, usually carrying flowers or cornucopia in her hands. Porto Sant'Elpidio is a coastal town in the province of Fermo, Marche, Italy. The commune is home to 25,071 inhabitants.


    1. I've recorded another possible case of special providence on Triablogue before. On Oct. 20, 2011 Steve posted a blog titled, Coincidentally
      . The blog is just a link to Doug Geivett's blog The Rittenhouse Coincidence

      Steve's blog was posted on the same day he posted his blog titled Hearing God which is a link to a J.P. Moreland article On Hearing from God: Two Perspectives. Moreland begins the article citing and recommending Dallas Willard's book "Hearing God". I noted in the combox of Steve's blog that I coincidentally happen to have had that book on my computer desk at that very time while reading those blogs.

      Now, are these all pure coincidence due to God's ordinary providence rather than His special providence? Possibly. I don't know. But I do find them interesting. It shouldn't be too surprising that people like me would meditate on the concept of "hope" and other people naming their children "hope". The thing is, I don't recall encountering the name Elpidia too often if at all other than when I must have encountered it when watching Predator. A movie I've seen many times since it first came out. It makes sense for me to only notice the name NOW that I know what the Greek word for "hope" is. But why encounter it now? Have I been encountering the name many times in my life but just never noticed it until now? Possibly. I don't know how popular the name Elpidia is. Though, it's clearly not a popular as Jane. So, this coincidence in my life won't be anything significant to an atheist. In fact, I suspect similar coincidences happen to non-Christian all the time as well. There's no conclusive prove either way that this is a case of special providence, but I think a Christian in my position is permitted to "hope" that it is [pun intended].

      BTW, the following is a link to my blog where I take and modify William Lane Craig's three types of providence: ordinary, special, and extraordinary.

      Three Kinds of Providence. In the blog, I argue for why special providence [i.e. outstanding coincidence] sometimes is and sometimes isn't miraculous.

    2. I meant to post the above comments in Steve's recent post Synchronicity. I'll leave a post there to check out my comments here.

      BTW, I'm pretty sure now that I looked up the Koine Greek word(s) for hope two days ago on the 7th because I wrote a comment in one of my notes on the topic of hope on the day I looked up the words. The file properties says the last time I modified the file was on the 7th.