(Submitted by friend of the blog, Alison Smith)
My friend Jeff Wagg and I both worked at the James Randi Educational Foundation for some time. We were close enough that we often had yelled debates over the phone – and the most popular conversation between us was about a higher power. Unlike many of my friends in the critical thinking world, I am not an atheist – though characterizing my form of belief is rather difficult.
One day, Jeff and I were winding down from one of these debates, and, tired of the argument, Jeff said, “I would believe in God if pizza showed up on my doorstep.” (I should add that he insists he said ‘a pizza’).
Immediately, I began to plan. Jeff lived in the middle of nowhere in Vermont. Pizza places didn’t deliver to him, and the nearest restaurant was something like half an hour away. I, at the time, lived in Texas – so I couldn’t shuttle a pizza over, either.
But we did have a mutual friend in New Hampshire – one that was driving over to visit Jeff soon – and she was the nice sort of person who would do a favor if asked. I called her and asked that, along the way, she stop off and get pizza to take to Jeff. I didn’t tell her the reason, or the source of the issue. I am not sure, even now, if she knew at the time that I wasn’t an atheist. She did agree to get the pizza, and I sat back, like a villain in a comic book, with a bit of maniacal laughter.
On the way to Jeff’s house, our friend stopped off to get the pizza and while there saw a greeting card she liked. She bought it, wrote in it, and added it to the pizza to take to Jeff. He opened it, and was amazed. So am I – even still.
The front of the card was the painting ‘The Creation of Adam’ – where God is reaching out to Adam, and Adam is reaching back. However, in this interpretation, their hands were not empty. God held out a pizza, and Adam held out money. On the inside, our friend wrote, “And God said, ‘Let there be pizza!’”
Jeff is still an atheist, though – because our friend didn’t get him ‘a pizza’, as he claims he said. She got slices.
Below are the extended notes provided by Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 185. Take a look and leave your comments below.
As cute, funny, and amazing as this story is, the ‘amazing’ part does not hold up to scrutiny. The author notes that arguments about the existence of God were common between he and Jeff. It’s likely that Jeff had discussions about religion with others as well. Given that the woman who visited Jeff is a mutual friend, the odds are pretty good that the friend was an atheist or at least enjoyed discussions about religion herself. When she saw the card, she knew that Jeff would appreciate that humor, and the fact that she was bringing him pizza made the card funnier, even though she did not know that the pizzahad anything to do with a discussion about God. This is a case in which shared interests and values are responsible for the friendships the three shared, making the odds of something like this happening much greater than they appear. Great story, but not ‘crazy’ odds.