We are all familiar with déjà vu, and with synchronicity, and similar “spooky” experiences, in which some deep, deeply significant connections between apparently quite unrelated things become suddenly apparent to us. The standard explanation of such things is that there is nothing to explain; as pattern recognition systems, we look for and find patterns even where they are not really present. Such experiences then are simply mistakes.
But it won’t do. I say this, not just because such experiences feel as if they are unusually profound insights into reality, in which our apprehension of the truth is better than normal, although that is indeed the case, but because the standard explanation makes no sense.
Each of our moments arises with some knowledge of where and what it is, and of whom. We say that we remember these things, but that’s not enough either. That such knowledge is inherited from our past moments, as indeed it certainly is, does not tell us how that information from the past is able to locate us in the present and tell us what is happening. What is it, pray tell, that connects your past moments to this one in your present?
In his opus 19, the Psalmist sings:
2 One day tells its tale to another, and one night imparts knowledge to another.
3 Although they have no words or language, and their voices are not heard,
4 Their sound has gone out into all lands, and their message to the ends of the world.
How? How do subatomic particles know how to find each other in order to interact, or when they do, how to “shake hands” with each other, so that they may each inform the other’s future by a physical transaction – an exchange of information?
The longer I go on, the more it seems to me that the fact of Divine omniscience has the straightforward consequence that, because each creaturely event has its origin in God, and is therefore wholly informed thereby, each such occasion therefore simply must know, at some level, and at least by implication, everything that God knows (this being the basis of the Socratic doctrine of anamnesis, and the reason we can reason abstractly to logical, moral, and musical truths). I don’t see any other way that creatures could know, as they arose, what universe they were in, or what causal inputs and outputs were therefore relevant to their situation. If creatures didn’t implicitly know where and when and what God thinks they are, and so what they ought properly to be about, then how on Earth could they ever figure out their worldly nature and locus, before it was too late to do anything coherent? How can one be even an ignorant baby flailing about in the crib, unless one first knows how to be just that?
There cannot be any such thing as “mere” coincidence, that is utterly meaningless. Existence is never just disorderly. On the contrary, it is orderly per se. And to say that things are related in orderly fashion is just to say that they are related meaningfully; that everything, in just being, is ipso facto significant, is about something, tells something.
Our apprehensions of synchronicity, then, would seem to be moments when the veil is slightly parted, so that we may see Providence at work.
Addison’s deathless gloss on Psalm 19:
THE spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heav’ns, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
Th’unwearied sun from day to day
Does his Creator’s pow’r display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an almighty hand.
Soon as the ev’ning shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the list’ning earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence, all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball?
What though nor real voice nor sound
Amidst their radiant orbs be found?
In Reason’s ear, they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
Forever singing as they shine:
“The hand that made us is divine!”