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Thank you Rose for the lovely story. You write beautifully.

You have told me that you "have realized over the years . . . that there isn't a legitimate argument in the whole wide world that will get a guy to his knees, confessing Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior," so I'm a little surprised that you feel that the story of the kite would do that for me. I expected you to end the story by telling me that the kite floated down into Ed's (not Steve's) hands and that Ed was converted on the spot. Surely, if God wanted Ed to be converted, that would be a fitting moment for the conversion to occur. I suspect that Ed, like me, would need a miracle of stupendous proportions. Ross thinks that no miracle would be great enough to convince me, and he's right, because I will always look for a natural explanation, whether it is a strange event or a remarkable coincidence. The odds of winning a lottery are much lower than those in the kite story. I would not be surprised if every religious lottery winner thinks that her coincidental winning is an act of God. I'm sure that those that prayed to win thought their win was an answer to their prayers.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on which side one is, I don't expect ever to see a great miracle. The great miracles occurred only in the distant past when they could not be adequately validated. As scientific investigation acquired its sea legs, the great miracles tended to wither away. You have told me that your favorite promise of Jesus is, "If you believe you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Millions of people were privately praying for rain in Texas, but the drought continued on mercilessly. If God can send a kite down into the hands of its owner, he can also send a few drops of rain to the parched ground of distressed farmers.

I have noticed that deeply religious persons find religious meanings in every event of their lives, no matter how small. The curious part of this is that the meaning varies with the religion. For example, in so-called near-death experiences, the Catholic will likely have a vision of the Virgin Mary, for the Episcopalian it may be Jesus, for the Moslem it may be Allah, and for the atheist, it may be her mother. I am sure that, if you had been born and raised in a Moslem family, you would want me to convert to a different god, and if you had grown up as a Buddhist, your goal would be to help me attain nirvana.

I know you are sincere when you pray for me. I can only thank you for your concern. You won't believe this, but I am really not suffering in any way as a result of my atheism. Nor are my many atheist friends. The world is a beautiful and exciting place, and the wonders of science yet to come will outshine any religious miracles.

Sincerely,

Tom

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