Someone I know, “A missionary in Mexico” claims that they often pray to God for
donations to an exact penny for various needs.
Then someone will send them that cheque that is down to the exact
penny of what they are asking for. (Apparently it happens on quite a regular basis.
Growing up in a evangelical church, I have often heard of this as evidence of a God.
Has anyone ever investigated it? Determined the statistical odds of this happening?
How would we go about testing this “evidence” Could we get Joe Nickell on board?
The problem is verifying that there is no ordinary connection between the money received and the antecedent prayer. You could have a neutral third party verify that $x was prayed for at time t and then $x received at a later time t+1, but it would be harder to verify that the missionary hadn’t contacted the donor or had the donor contacted on his/her behalf.
You would also need to verify that this wasn’t a statistically likely occurrence. If for example the missionary knew that most people sent in donations of $y, she/he could simply pray for that convenient amount.
Generally speaking though, this is obviously bunkum, since if it worked generally everyone (or every missionary) would do it. And if there were a direct correlation between the amount asked for and the amount received, why not ask for a billion dollars?