Friday, April 8, 2011


I've been asked by many people over the years, most recently by commenter Edward what proof would I need to accept that the Christian god, or any god actually exists.
Well, I'll tell you, kind of.

Back in collage I took a class where religion and atheism were compared.  We discussed this question frequently amongst ourselves.  Everyone pretty much agreed that if Jesus descended from the skies on a beam of light for all the world to see that would be enough proof.  But we are taught that the lord does not work in such garish ways.  He's not going to show himself in public.  We just have to have faith.

So I thought, If god won't show himself to the masses anymore (he was constantly showing up unannounced in the OT), would he give me a "personal" sign of his existence?  If so, I'm sure he would allow me to pick my proof because I would have to know the sign beforehand so that I knew it was God contacting me.

So I set out to create a set of rules.
1) I had to rule out mental illness as a possibility so it would have to be verifiable by others.  Others would have to be able to see the sign but not need know what it meant.
2) It would have to be something  very personal.  Something only I would understand as a sign.
3) It would have to be something that occurred in the the natural world.  The sun couldn't "dance in the sky", the trees couldn't start talking and the  stars in the night sky could spell out BRUCE IS AWESOME (although that would be nice, and true).
4) I can't tell anyone what that sign would be to rule out the possibility that someone would try to trick me into believing.

I have my sign and have been waiting almost 25 years for a higher power to show it to me.
If/When I see it I will spend the rest of my life trying to convince the rest of the world that they need to praise this god as well.

Atheists, what proof do you require?  Did you believe and now you don't?  Do you have a plan?  Is mine sound?

Believers, What made you believers?  Did you have an experience that changed you?  Could you apply the above rules to your experience?    Are those rules even relevant to your faith?
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  1. I never really believed. I was raised catholic but when I got to a point in my life where I looked at the Church and the bible with a critical eye - I realized it was all complete nonsense. Cute stories to teach lessons. That's the extent of it.

  2. There was just a big flare-up of this argument in the atheosphere. There seemed to be two main camps: one side (PZ Myers?) said that the concept of God was so incoherent that any possible "proof" would be meaningless. The other side (Jerry Coyne?) said that there was a set of circumstances that could convince them.

    I'm kind of on the "God is too incoherent" camp. Any miraculous event, no matter how miraculous, would really be only evidence for *that* event. You couldn't work backwards and be "oh, okay, so... the God of the Bible is real." Which God? El, with his pantheon? The anthropomorphic Yahweh of JE? The lone, abstract Yahweh of the priestly authors? The God of the New Testament?

    God would really have to get out his bullhorn and do a long, complicated explanation of which presentations of him were accurate (were the Mormon's? Is he Allah?) and which weren't.

    In short, I would have a hard time connecting the miraculous event to past descriptions of God. I would put my money on it being aliens, or us being in a computer simulation, rather than the incoherent conception of "God" actually existing.

  3. I believed, for awhile, while I was growing up in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Or I thought I believed, anyway. These days, I wonder if maybe I believed not in Jesus or the Bible themselves so much, but in the power of a community to help me and heal me. For me, at that time, that was all the proof that I needed - this idea must be true and worthwhile, because it was the only thing in my small world that I saw driving people to be better, more compassionate and helpful.

    But then I went to college in a big city, read the Gospel in its entirety for the first time and found it wanting...and most importantly, I saw so many other people that were supporting others, and being supported, all without a central dogma to motivate them or bind them together, and with far less strings attached. Ironically, once I stopped identifying as Christian, I became way more interested in religious history and the rationality (or, as is often the case, the lack thereof) of apologetics. That self-education, combined with noticing that everyone's perception of god is different (why? unless they are creating that experience for themselves) has only raised the bar astronomically higher for the kind of proof I would need to believe in the Judeo-Christian god again.

    Despite not being religious, I still consider myself spiritual, if that means wanting to lead a righteous life in harmony with the forces that surround me, being open to things that seem supernatural, and as Jews sometimes say, my heart still yearns for the messiah. But honestly, I can't think of anything concrete that would allow me to believe again. Abbie's comment hits home for me - what event could possible make coherent all of the conflicting depictions of god?

  4. I have a favorite scenario which is easy to describe. Imagine that tomorrow night a collection of stars within the Milky Way go supernova, and happen to spell out "The LORD, He is God" in Hebrew, just like the people chanted after the showdown with the prophets of Baal. Moreover, these stars are widey separated and thus the spelling only works as viewed from the Milky Way. I call this the "supernovae tetragrammmaton" scenario, and I'd consider it fairly strong evidence of the following proposition...

  5. Correction: " viewed from our solar system." (Damn)

    Here is my conclusion (given such evidence) A being of godlike power exists and wants us to believe that He is the characccter described in the Hebrew Bible.

  6. Now it may still be the case that we are indeed naught but brains in vats or (even more disturbingly) simulated minds running on software designed to emulate reality in every respect. That said, it would still be true that a being with godlike powers (relative to us) exists and is sending us a message. Given the words of the Old Testament, one might infer that this being is just a sociopathic grad studennt in comp sci

  7. I was an atheist and didn't like God.
    You ask what made me believe. I answer: John 6:44-45 - Jesus made me believe. I am very glad He did.

  8. Rho - You make it sound as if He violated your free will, by *making* you believe instead of persuading you with evidence.

  9. Rhology, if you didn't like god, you probably weren't an atheist. I'm an atheist, and I can't dislike that which I believe to be imaginary.

  10. Despite trying to be as open-minded as possible I have trouble trying to come up with any set of circumstances which would convince me of a god's existence. Through a combination of Occam's Razor and Hume's maxim that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence I fear the bar has been set too high for even an omnipotent being to reach! I would always reach for the simpler explanations first - I'm mistaken, I've lost the plot, someone's spiked my drink, or as mentioned above that it was technologically advanced aliens or part of a computer simulation. All of these options would make far more sense than any deity I'm aware of - they all fall within the realms of what we accept as physically and logically possible and would be capable of explaining any godlike phenomena.

  11. Rhology, if you didn't like god, you probably weren't an atheist. I'm an atheist, and I can't dislike that which I believe to be imaginary.

    I always crack up when an "ex-atheist" claims they were "angry" with God when they were an atheist. You can't be angry at something you don't think exists!

    "Dislike" is pretty much the same concept, but one can dislike the concept of God. I sure do.

    But as for the "belief" question, I never did. I considered myself nominally Christian but was never indoctrinated. (Well, there was a Bible day camp one summer, but all I remember is Davey and Goliath and kids not letting me play soccer.)
    The few times I was dragged to church by my grandmother as a teen I already thought the whole thing was pretty ridiculous.

    So I've never believed, and I'm fascinated when ex-theists discuss what it was like to.

  12. As above, I would require something large and verifiable. Here's what I tell theists who try to convert me:

    "You are claiming that a god exists, and that this god is all-knowing, all-powerful, and benevolent.

    If your god is all-knowing, then he already knows exactly what evidence would persuade me that he exists.

    If he is all-powerful, then he is able to provide that evidence.

    If he is benevolent, then he would want me to believe that he exists.

    But no such evidence has shown up. So if your god exists, he is not as you describe him. Or, and I think this is more probable, he is non-existent."

  13. Damion,

    Yes, my will freely chose to ignore the evidence. He changed my will so I could stop ignoring the evidence. I was dead in sin, and it's a sin to ignore evidence like that.

    Kelly and Abbie,

    You apparently need to meet more atheists.

  14. Great question!

    Personally, I prefer the 1000-mile-diameter-orb-inscribed-with-gods-six-laws appearing over the equator scenario.

    Even the orb is a shaky proposition, because humans are so limited in their knowledge that we could easily say "we don't have an explanation", then go about the business of seeking the explanation. At some point, it's a deity, or it's not. I'd probably not confer belief on a deity for some time - but it's hard to tell at what point.

    As far as Yahweh goes, he'd have to take me to dinner at the restaurant that I'm thinking of right now, order my favorite dish and my customary pre-dinner drink without prompting from me, and pay the tab, while leaving an 18% tip if the service is to our mutual liking. I'd pick up the tip if we disagree.

    Having a personal revelation of the sort you describe is always questionable, in my view, because of the mental illness concern. That's not to say that people that believe are mentally ill, but to say that that's the first thing that I would suspect if I had a personal revelation that others could not share. Of course, it could just be the Illuminati beaming microwave transmissions into my head, but they only do that to my neighbors, as far as I can tell. ;-D

  15. For me it started off as disliking God, although I did later come to the conclusion that I was disliking something imaginary (as Kelly said). That was pretty much when I started identifying as atheist.

    I can't think of anything that would lead me to believe in a god, and even if the god of the bible was real, I certainly would not worship or follow this aforementioned god (too whiny and mean!).

  16. @Bruce

    (For some reason this didn't post earlier so I'm trying again.)

    Yale philosopher Norwood Russell Hanson criticizes God’s absence in this way:

    "Suppose that on next Tuesday morning, just after breakfast, all of us in this one world are knocked to our knees by a percussive and ear shattering thunderclap. Snow swirls; leaves drop from trees; The earth heaves and buckles; Buildings topple and towers tumble; The sky is ablaze with an eerie, silvery light. Just then, as all the people of this world look up, the heavens open—The clouds pull apart—Revealing an unbelievably immense and radiant Zeus-like figure, towering above us like a hundred Everests. He frowns darkly as lightning plays across the features of His Michelangeloid face. He then points down at me and exclaims, for every man, woman and child to hear, "I have had quite enough of your too-clever logic-chopping and word-watching in matters of Theology. Be assured, N. R. Hanson that I do most certainly exist."  He goes on to add, "Please do not dismiss this example as a playful, irreverent Disney-oid contrivance. The conceptual point here is that if such a remarkable event were to transpire, I for one should certainly be convinced that God does exist."

    Ravi Zacharias responds:
    "I too would love for God to make some indisputable appearance; a rending of the skies with a sound and light accompaniment. But I am not at all sure that believability is as simple as that. So, I have a question for this professor: "Suppose this actually happened, exactly the way you asked for it. Would you be satisfied with that epiphany if, moments later while backing out of your driveway, you accidentally ran over your five-year-old son? What would you want from God then? Would you be content with the vision of God that you had experienced a few minutes before, or would you demand an explanation for this tragedy, as well?"

    What say you?

  17. I haven't checked in in a while and was interested to see your post. This recent post really depressed me to be honest...

    Not by your answer, but of the question. "What proof must you see to believe in God?" The question is where everything goes wrong. It insinuates that God owes you proof of his existence all while there are billions of galaxies, complex life on an earth in the middle of it all, and countless other signs you see every day, and we have the gaul to say it was a universal accident.

    The pharisees constantly ask Jesus for a sign in the new testament and he tells them no, b/c they still wouldn't believe. You'd say that this is absurd but think about it. They are asking the God of the universe to prove himself. In essence they are putting themselves above him.

    Also, faith isn't something you's a gift and only God can give it to you. If you see your sign one day, you'll be more likely to turn around and rationalize what you didn't see rather than turning. Turning doesn't come about b/c you realize God has proved himself to you. Turning happens when you realize who you are compared to God. This realization is a gift that God provides.

    I'm terrified that we're looking at it from the wrong perspective once again. We're saying, "let God obey our commands and our boundaries" instead of saying "may God have mercy on me"...b/c we truly realize who we are and who He is.

  18. @Damion -"Rho - You make it sound as if He violated your free will, by *making* you believe instead of persuading you with evidence"

    Damion, where did this idea of free will come from? Who says we have it? Is it biblical? Even though man makes a choice, who is to say that God didn't effect that choice?

    How dare we claim that God violated anything of ours. That is to claim that we have rights over the God of the universe.

  19. @Matt
    Welcome back!
    >>"I'm terrified that we're looking at it from the wrong perspective once again. "
    Couldn't disagree with you more. You accept an imaginary entity without evidence, and assume it exists - and that it issues commands and does other cool stuff. Of all the hundreds of thousands of imaginary beings mankind has conjured up over the millenia, why would we corrupt our perception for the one that you propose?

  20. @Matt33,
    Your post shows us the problem (impossibility?) with believers and non-believers answering the same question. :-)

    You/believers seem to feel that asking questions is somehow wrong. that you're insulting god. You feel that you HAVE to believe the Bible without given a good reason other then god said so.

    Atheist on the other hand ask "Why" all the time. Why should we believe this book is the word of god? There is no evidence to support that claim so we ask for it. It seems to be human nature. Kids do it naturally.

    I'm pretty sure you'll agree that man's curiosity has given us incredible advances. Medicine, science, art. We have advanced as a species because we constantly ask "Why" It seems absurd that we shouldn't be able to do this for god, after all he supposedly created us this way.

    And what do you mean when you say "Turning happens when you realize who you are compared to God"? That man is inferior?
    Why is asking god to show he exists putting ourselves above god? This doesn't really make sense to me either?

  21. @Skepticali

    Does it take more faith to believe that life happened by accident over millions of years and actually turned out pretty well or that there actually is an infinite designer that had a purpose for creation?

    I would venture to say that the first is harder to believe.

    A perception is so fickle to base truth on whether it's mine or yours. Truth should be derived from something more a designer of creation.

  22. @Bruce

    Thanks dude, I appreciate your post because I by no means meant for it to come across that it is wrong to ask God questions. I constantly ask the "hard questions" to God and I would encourage everyone. However, I believe we can get lost when we start demanding signs from a God that owes us nothing. That was the main point I was trying to make...

    Again, the belief that I "HAVE" to believe the bible b/c God said so is a horrible characterization of me. I choose to believe the Bible b/c God allows me too, but many times by what I do in life I don't believe the Bible. My nature is to hate everything written in that Bible. God changes me though, and that's where Christ comes in (I won't go into detail)

    I think it's awesome that man asks the question why. Man is made in God's image and that happens b/c we're made in God's image. I believe and inate trait that we share with God is that we both love creating (new medicines, art, science, physics, etc.)

    I believe asking God exists is dangerous not b/c of the question, but b/c of our hearts behind the question. "God, I don't believe in you but I will if you do this trick for me" or "God, I don't believe in you b/c you're not meeting my expectations of how I thought you would be or how I would do it if I was God". The heart is just full of pride in these cases and we may not even realize it.

    Thanks Bruce for asking those questions...I by no means meant to sound like "questions are bad!!!"

  23. @Matt33
    You're positing that a "designer" of everything, plus everything, is more plausible that just everything. Take your time explaining how that works.

  24. @Matt,
    You said "Does it take more faith to believe that life happened by accident over millions of years and actually turned out pretty well or that there actually is an infinite designer that had a purpose for creation?
    I would venture to say that the first is harder to believe."

    Why is it harder to believe a system that has physical evidence?
    Man has researched this for over 150 years. Over that time we have acquired basic knowledge and built upon it. We are still finding new pieces to the puzzle and it will take along time to find all the answers. Maybe we will never find all the answers.
    But, why would we stop looking and just "god did it". That's an easy solution to a difficult question. And I believe that's a copout.
    You said " I choose to believe the Bible b/c God allows me too". That seems like a very submissive attitude which I could never adopt.
    You also said that asking if god exists is dangerous. I think that's just putting these barriers up between your faith and serious questions you want to ask. Could you be afraid of the answers you would have to face?

    I'm enjoying this conversation! :-)

  25. I just wrote a 4 paragraph essay on my atheism and the computer refused to post it. Do you think that is the sign?

  26. Frankly I have never considered this question. When I was a kid in Sunday School God seem to be a big meany and not worth considering. Jesus seemed to be an ok guy who taught nice things so I stuck with him. When I was 18 I came across the idea of the Buddha and the search for a way to improve myself and return as a better person. My mother tried to put me in therapy for questioning God buy my dad said that "half the world's population believes that stuff" so I started wondering about what people in other countries did for a god if Christianity wasn't what they believed in. During university and as a young professional I started to study the history of religion: my favourite being medival Christianity and the crusades. Eventually any residual belief just faded away. Nature is what nature is. The beauty of the cosmos doesn't require the FSM or any other diety to intervene to make it better. When we die our molecules rejoin the universe and make something new. It is important to live life to the fullest being kind to everyone. I don't try to change anyone's religious views unless they are causing pain to someone else. I don't pay any attention to those who try to change me. I try to raise my children to be rational thinkers who follow the Golden Rule because it is universally the right thing to do not out of fear of reprisals. My atheism is just what is says: "I have no need of that hypothesis"

  27. @Bruce,
    To your 1st point concerning the physical're simply finding that there is evidence of a beginning (or creation), it's impossible to prove God doesn't exist (or vice versa).

    To your question of asking "why would we stop asking and just accept God did it?" You make it sound like that answer gives up or settles...When you found out the answer of 2+2, did you keep looking for another answer? I believe the answer is known and it is actually that easy. But it's not easy for man to understand (b/c it's our perspective) but man's perspective doesn't define what Truth is.

    That leads me to your last comment saying that "That seems like a very submissive attitude which I could never adopt." You're right, it is an extremely submissive attitude. To actually be a christian is to give up everything that you are and believe that God (the trinity) is God and he loved you enough that even though you hated him, he still pursued you and died for you taking on the wrath of God (justice) instead of receiving it for yourself. I agree with you Bruce, you're never going to submit to this on your's impossible (more difficult to put a camel through a needles eye one might say). But if God has mercy and gives grace to you, you won't be able to refuse it b/c at that point God will reveal Truth to you and it will be something you can't run away from.

    Again, let me reiterate that I'm not afraid of questions or answers...I'm not saying that the questions are bad. I'm saying that our heart of hearts behind the questions could be evil and we don't even realize it.

    great conversation Bruce I agree. I hope you'll understand the impossibility of man to grasp and understand the Gospel without the help of God.

  28. @Bruce,
    Part 1 of 2 or 3 :-D

    Well i read the comments after i had pondered what you had posted. Matt33 touched on what i was thinking. I will be honest up front. I am changing my question! I have realized the error of my first question. As i mentioned above Matt33 has touched on this.

    I ask the question What evidence would you accept as proof of Gods existence? This question comes across as me asking you to come up with your to-do-list and let's see God perform. I was reminded of Herod in Luke 23:8-9. He wanted the same thing and notice Jesus was present and did not say a thing. How funny. I now realize the error of my question and from now on will present it in a new way.

    What evidence would you accept for the existence of God, and are you willing to seek understanding of it?

    What i see now is the first question lets you stick your hands in your pocket in a passive stance to wait for God to prove Himself. And you yourself won't pursue the Truth (John 14:6), you have already decided what is true (John 18:38). Now i use "hands in your pocket", because i feel it's the most appropriate, seeing i don't know everyone's heart. Now if it was hands across your chest that's a defiant position, if it's hands behind your back is a submissive position (like standing at attention), and hands folded in front of your crotch, well if God did show up i don't think your hands there are going to do you any good. I don't think you would want to shake His with wet hands :-D

    Now can we reverse the roles? You claim to be an atheist, and i know you have studied and know to make that assertion you must be god yourself, so let's reverse the roles.
    Let me give you an idea of your new role:

    You are the god of the universe, you have spoken everything into existence (Genesis 1). You are so much larger than anything that you measured the waters in the hollow of your hand, and meted out the heaven with the span(Isaiah 40:12). You have also stretched the heavens out by those massive hands of yours (Psalms 102:25; Isaiah 45:12; Isaiah 48:13). Just think of the arms that are attached to those hands. WOW! Those stars that you see when you look up at the night sky (granted in Chicago you might not see many at all), well you, as god, have numbered them all and call them by name(Psalms 147:4; Isaiah 40:26). Just Google Hubble deep field. That might give you a better idea of how awesomely big you really are (and that is just a small dark spot in the sky. :-D). What's even more crazy is that you are self referencing. If you remember some guy asked something along the line of "Who should i say sent me?" The reply, "I AM THAT I AM"(Exodus 3:14). You are it, there is none besides thee (1 Chronicles 17:20). Sorry only one atheist can be god at a time please. :-D I could go on and on, you are indescribable, which is itself a description of you. ;-) You are also the superlative of anything good anyone could say about you.

    And then we come to Edward, some little dude on planet earth. So you gave him the sun,moon,stars, the planet that he lives on, the air he breaths, the complexity of life. He can take these things and go study about your creation and about you(Proverbs 15:28), however he has a better idea. He shoves his hands in his pockets, says god if your real read my mind and do what i want! You would laugh wouldn't you? I know i would. Man giving the true God orders? Please! I would be like whatever you lazy child. There are churches full of individuals just like you Edward. They claim they love me, however their hearts are far from me(Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8; Mark 7:6)! I'm not interested.

  29. Part 2 of 2 or 3
    I think God would say: I left markers throughout My creation attesting to the fact of My existence, and you deny them. You will find some way to explain it away. Google laminin picture, the truthorfiction article is an interesting read. The one is even better(Romans 1:20). God does know the heart of man (Genesis 6:5; Mark 7:21). It won't change on it's own, only with Jesus Christ can it truly change (I know you might think, how could people's hearts change before Jesus Christ was born. Another awesome ability of God John 17:5).

    See it's true For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 I think we might have all heard that at one time or another. However it's also true that the world hates Jesus (John 15:18). You probably haven't heard that one much if at all. People always want to talk about love and it's predominantly always one way, from God to man.

    You know what a person is called that peruses someone that does not want to have a relationship with them and the pursued makes them aware that they don't want a relationship with them? Even goes so far as to declare the the pursuer doesn't exists? I'm thinking "stalker" however some might be thinking my X. :-D

    The way i see it is that God via Holy Spirit will invite us to have a relationship with Him. It's the only way really, we won't want to on our own. Yes He may come again in the form of a person sharing the Gospel with you, however many will still reject Him. And now i come along with a question that wasn't thought out, forgive me Lord. I have repented and made the correction.

    How can your head convince your heart about something it's already set against? Which is really what it is. If you want something to watch for while we read the Greatest Book Ever Written, look for all the times it deals with mans heart.

    It seems to all boil down to a heart condition. And that is something that i find amazing in itself. That all the different writers of Holy Script, and a reoccurring message i come across is the heart condition of man.

    God rewards those that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). However not many want to, again it's because of their heart. However there is some great news in this for both of us, and with that i will close this comment.

    If you are right we will both get exactly what we want when we die. If the faith i have is correct we will both get exactly what we want when we die. It's a win - win situation. :-D

  30. @Edward
    I know you don't feel neglected, but since @Bruce is on jury duty, allow me...

    >>What evidence would you accept for the existence of God, and are you willing to seek understanding of it?

    I don't believe your new question is any different that @Bruce's original one. Any target of rational inquiry assumes the ability of the inquirer to understand it, and is a prerequisite to accepting it as valid (or as needing further inquiry).

    As a side note, the researcher defines the research terms, so if you were trying to steer the conclusion to one you like, then "bad on ya"! If @Bruce has terms under which he'd accept evidence, then he sets the terms. Likewise with me. The subject of the inquiry (or its advocate) doesn't get to define how we proceed. After all, you didn't see penicillin telling Fleming that he couldn't look behind that burning bush, but could only look behind this burning bush over here ... didja? XD

    If god is subject to rational inquiry, then we should be able to approach the problem in any way we desire. If we want to share and review the results with others, then additional rigor is required - such as insuring our results are repeatable under controlled conditions.

    By the way, the long role reversal thought experiment was an interesting touch, but I didn't see the point. Citing a bunch of bible passages doesn't sound like an effective strategy if you're trying to win converts among the godless. I already don't believe in the bible - so citing it is useless if your intent is to convince or convert. If you had a different intention, please clarify.

    You ***do*** get points for shear volume, however!

    Have a rationally empirical evening!

  31. @Skepticali,

    Yes the question needs some more work, i am not perfect. :-D

    Using the scripture was to emphasis that i was not just making stuff up, yet what people believe about God. It's as me saying: ok you want to be God? Well here are things that people have written and believe from the Christian perspective about God. You don't have to believe it, however it is what is written.

    One premise of this site was for critical thinking. So i was attempting to give you, from what i could, enough information to think of yourself as God, and how silly it would be for some lesser being (me) to say what i had mentioned in the comment. I was not even thinking of trying to convince or convert you. I really believe that when our lives are all said and done we will both be really happy with what comes next, either way. Granted i could be wrong, but i know between the two outcomes i will be happy either way. :-D My intentions, with the use of scripture, was simply to help in character development, so the readers could really get into their new role. I guess i didn't do a good job. :-D Casting starts tomorrow for those interested. ;-)

    I already don't believe in the bible
    In that line of thought you have much company.

    “No other book has been so chopped, knifed, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology or belles lettres of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? With such venom and skepticism? With such thoroughness and erudition? Upon every chapter, line and tenet?” - Bernard Ramm

    As for me i agree with Pascal
    “I prefer to believe those writers who get their throats cut for what they write.” :-D

    If i did not explain myself well, i will try again.

  32. I'm late to the party, as I have been many times in past posts. But I did want to post my own response because this is something that I feel is important that we think about.

    "what proof would (you) need to accept that the Christian god, or any god actually exists?"

    Which was reformed to ask "What evidence would you accept for the existence of God, and are you willing to seek understanding of it?"

    Personally I don't see any difference between the questions, so my answer to either question would be the same.

    First I need a hypothesis. It was mentioned above that PZ Myers would not accept any evidence simply because there is not even a coherent hypothesis of what a god is to begin with. PZ is right, before you can provide evidence, you need to be able to explain to me what your providing evidence for. We have many claims of the god of Abraham's character, but many of those claims are inherently problematic. For example, omnipotence: Logical contradictions abound for such a characteristic, can he create a rock so large that he cannot lift it? In either case he is limited.

    So rather than starting with something so great as a deity, lets start first with simply demonstrating that the supernatural exists. To do this, you have to provide an effect that has no natural cause. The problem with this is that just because we can't provide a natural cause, it doesn't mean there isn't one. This borders on arguments of ignorance: we don't know, therefor a god did it. Well no, just because we don't know doesn't mean a god did it. You have to be able to falsify any and all natural explanations, of which there could very well be infinite, before we could start considering a supernatural cause.

    Once you've done that, you will have provided evidence that the supernatural exists. This does not mean that a god exists. You have to be able to show that this supernatural effect is capable of reacting to us, but also potentially show us that there is a natural cause of which we are unaware, so you have to be very careful with this part. This would only prove that we can interact with the supernatural. Then you would have to prove that this uncaused effect can respond to us intelligently, which would only prove that this supernatural effect is capable of intelligence itself.

    At this point we would finally be able to start asking the supernatural effect questions, and we no longer need you to show us anything. But here's the thing, just because we have an intelligent and personable supernatural effect still doesn't mean we have a deity on our hands. The supernatural effect would have to be able to demonstrate its own godhood.

    Anything is possible, and I'm open to the possibility of a deities existence. But just because something is possible, does not mean that thing is probable. This is the problem with the belief in the supernatural, it is almost certainly infinitely improbable given what it means to be super natural.

    That said, falsifiability is a cornerstone of science. So if the theists want to know what evidence we would require to believe in god, I think its perfectly reasonable for the theists to answer a question in return. After all, how do you know your right, if you don't know how you could be wrong?

    So theists answer us this: What evidence would you accept to show you that your deity doesn't exist?

    And to this I offer an example. If you would like to prove evolution wrong, all you have to do is find the fossil of a modern rabbit that pre-dates the Cambrian.