In this report, we aim to prove the existence of God.
You loved coin tosses. To you, coin tosses always felt like fate flipping down onto the table, or destiny dropping with a musical plink. Every game, every argument, every yes or no question was settled with a coin toss. Let a coin decide, you would always say, pale hand grasping shiny silver; warm skin against slick, cool, thoughtless metal. Quarters worked the best, but you liked the look of pennies twirling through the air, like coppery fire spiraling down. A sign from heaven if the toss went your way, from hell if it didn’t.
You learned about heaven and hell (the Christian versions, at least) late into your life. Born-again Christian is what they called you at Mt. Olive’s church, the little white building on the corner of Holiday and Whitney you started visiting Sundays at 9:30 A.M. There, you learned that heaven was glamorous, beautiful like the stained glass windows, harmonious like the cascading hallelujahs of the church choir, and you gladly knelt at the feet of the wooden pews, breathing in the dust of the red hymnal books. You learned to fear hell, to grasp tightly instead on to faith, fate, and blind belief; religion gripped your bones and made your heart pound and your blood rush with singular purpose. It was a faith that even when tested, made you believe in destiny, in some kind of peaceful closure and of course, in sweet, sweet, salvation.
But before you were a born-again Christian, you were a physicist by trade, a child prodigy who scored near perfect on the national college entrance exams for physics. In college, you learned about Lagrangian numbers and the laws of kinematics––the simple classical mechanics that governed the physics of coin tosses. You knew, better than most, that there was nothing unpredictable about coin tosses, no way that heaven or higher powers would or could or should intervene. You knew the moment the coin left your hand, physics had already mapped its journey––a coin, destined to land on heads because of a cross breeze the moment you flicked it off your thumb, or on tails because of the extra weight of copper in its grooves. In physics, there was no such thing as fate, no such thing as faith or signs from heaven, only the raw data of the laboratory.
But even though the data was clearly laid out in the yellowed pages of your textbooks, you were never satisfied with the loops of logic that seemed so contrived compared to the effortless beauty of the world. And though you knew how Lagrangian numbers worked (Taylor series, and don’t forget the error term!) to calculate the effects of a cross breeze on coin tosses, you always asked yourself, who blew the cross breeze? and for that, there was no answer in the textbook.
In a quantum theory class you took your senior year of college, you thought you found the answer. In quantum theory, there is always a small chance of atom entanglement, where atoms will disobey the laws of classical mechanics, and thus, your coin toss would be unpredictable. The questions that I strived to solve but never could, the quantum theorists answered with the God of the Unknown, a being who was in control of everything that wasn’t explained or couldn’t be controlled by the laws in a physics textbook.
Years later, you ran into the God of the Unknown where you least expected Him––far from the sterile white walls and linoleum floors of laboratories and libraries, but in between the embossed black covers of the Bible you got from Mt. Olive’s annual Easter service. This time, though, as you sat in the wooden pews, you didn’t call him God of the Unknown; you called Him your Lord and Savior.
You’ve proven God because you’ve chosen to believe and trust in Him. Coin tosses are your metaphor, the very closest thing you have to representing Him. Both God and coin tosses decide your fate, both are a delicate balance between the unknown and known, both can follow physics or defy it (after all, didn’t God himself create the laws of physics in order to create light on the first day and the Earth on the second?).
Like it says on the coin––in God we trust, indeed.
Connie Cai graduated from Harvard College in May with a degree in Biochemistry, and a minor in Education. She’s currently a Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan, where she teaches English and writes personal essays and fiction in her spare time.