What Would Convince Me to Believe in God

This blog post is going to be a little different than most of mine. This post in particular is aimed more at theists than the majority of my posts are. Theists often wonder how to convince atheists of their position, and seem to think it is impossible to convince us of God. This clearly is not the case; from our perspective, theists often fail miserably at presenting their case, and even act in ways that detract from their arguments. It is not that we are not able to be convinced; it is that we are looking for certain kinds of evidence, and theists often fail to present it. This article is about what would convince me, personally, to believe in God.

 

If theists want to convince me to believe in God, the most important key is to cater to their audience, which in this case, is me. This means they need to understand how I think. The primary reason I do not believe in God is because I have not found any of the evidence convincing. As you have seen in my article on presuppositionalism, I adopt an epistemology based on accepting the existence universe and myself as axioms, and this means that we must derive the existence of God from myself or the physical universe. I do not require absolute evidence because I do not accept that one can be absolutely certain about much of anything, but the evidence for the existence of God should be very firm and undeniable on a reasonable level. I adopt the agnostic atheist position; I do not believe in God, but I do not necessarily deny the possibility of his existence either. I believe the burden of proof is on the person who is making the claim, and that would be the theist. From here on, I am going to provide a list of dos and don’ts for arguing with me on the subject for the existence of God.

 

Do cater your argument to the preferences above. It is essential for any would be evangelist that they meet me where I am. Do not engage in a debate with me if you are so deep in your perspective that you cannot even comprehend my viewpoint. A major problem Christians have in their outreach in my opinion is they are so indoctrinated in their belief system that they cannot even relate to people who are outside of it. Do intend to have a two way conversation. A conversation that is not two way is a lecture. I have no intention of being lectured. Do not engage in a conversation with me if you are unwilling to change your mind. If I am going to be willing to change my mind, I expect the same from people I discuss things with. I refuse to discuss religion with people who have no interest in hearing what I have to say, but want to try to convince me.

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Do not come into an argument already assuming the existence of God. I am not interested in apologetics (as in, merely a defense of a preconceived belief). I am interested in true knowledge. Do not think that I am a secret theist who obviously knows that God exists. That might be what it says in the Bible (Romans 1:20), but I do not believe in the Bible. That being said, quoting the Bible will not get you anywhere either, unless you can convince me that the Bible is true.

 

Do not try to tell me that the Bible is true because it says so in the Bible. This is circular reasoning. Do not attempt to use the Bible’s alleged internal consistency to credit some sort of merit to it that I do not believe it has. I have studied the Bible, and I was a sincere Christian for over a decade. I recognize that the alleged consistency in the Bible is actually circular reasoning and based on the presupposition that it is true. I even wrote an article explaining some of the psychology behind theistic beliefs in the Bible. If one is seriously going to insist on using the Bible as evidence, it must be supported by external evidence that builds knowledge up, rather than evidence that reaffirms itself.

 

Do not rely on personal feelings. They are unreliable and are not good indicators to truth. It may be nice you claim to have had experiences that you think were caused by the Holy Spirit, or God, or whatever. I thought I did too as a Christian. Often, these feelings are mistaken for something else.

 

Do not rely on alleged miracles. Many relatively mundane “miracles” such as the right thing happening at the right time does not mean a supernatural being did it. Do gain an understanding and appreciation of statistics in the context of miracles, and recognize the power of things like confirmation bias. Do understand that correlation is not causation. In the case of true supernatural miracles, do make sure that they can be verified via scientific means. Do try to rule out natural phenomena if you want to prove that the cause was supernatural.

 

Do not appeal to faith. Faith is belief without evidence. I want evidence. Do not tell me I need to have faith first in order to see evidence. Much evidence gathered in this way is invalidated because the process involved literally suspends critical thinking, intentionally leaving one open to phenomena like confirmation bias. Moreover, expecting me to spend my life believing without evidence, with the promise of future evidence is insufficient, and sounds like a huge scam. Imagine if a Nigerian prince told you if you give them $100 out of your paycheck every week, sometimes for years, that you will eventually become a millionaire. Asking people to accept what you say on faith for the promise of future evidence is a lot like that.

 

On the flip side, do not threaten me with hell or some sort of punishment. I do not believe in your hell or your divine punishment. Do not ask me what if I am wrong. Trying to scare me with the unlikely chance that you are right does not give me a valid reason to believe, especially when the possibilities out there are endless. Pascal’s wager is not a binary choice. By accepting one religion, I could easily be denying the “real” religion, if it exists.

 

Do not appeal to personal experience that cannot be verified. I cannot confirm your experiences, and if they are convincing to you, they are not necessarily convincing to me.

 

Do not rely on arguments of ignorance. I already know that certain definitions of God are possible. It is your burden of proof to present them to me. Trying to defend how your idea is possible will not get you anywhere. Once again, I am not interested in apologetics.

 

Do present logical arguments. Logical arguments can be valid evidence for the existence of God. I will introduce one caveat though: do not expect logical arguments to be valid enough in and of themselves. Philosophy is a particularly slippery discipline in the sense that depending on one’s assumptions, people can come to radically different conclusions. Just as you can argue for God with philosophy, it is equally possible to argue against the existence of God. Do check your arguments for logical fallacies. Many logical fallacies are often present in theistic arguments; it is good to check for them. My articles on theistic arguments can be of help, as can RationalWiki and Iron Chariots.

 FBI_Evidence_Response_TeamDo present scientific evidence. Scientific evidence for God can be some of the strongest, most convincing ways of convincing atheists. This is because scientific evidence, when properly done, is a high standard for confirming anything to be true. It can be as airtight as you can get if you present a phenomena that can be linked directly to God, that is observable and repeatable. This is difficult to accomplish, but if it can be done, that would be one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time. It is essential that this evidence links the independent variable, ie. God, directly to the phenomenon you are claiming is true.

 

Do verify any scientific evidence you present. There is a lot of junk science out there. Studies can have bad research designs, they can be written by quacks with an agenda, and they can be the one of many studies that is false despite passing tests of statistical significance; especially if the conclusion presented is not consistently reproduced. Peer reviewed studies from a trusted journal or institution is best. Other stuff can be valid if the result is reproduced among many studies.

 

Do not rely on pseudoscience from blatantly religious sources. Once again, I am not interested in apologetics, which has underlying assumptions and is there for the sole purpose of defending and propping up preconceptions. Do not claim that my evidence is as equally biased as yours. While there is no such thing as being completely unbiased, good scientific studies at least attempt to reduce or eliminate bias as much as possible. They are also interested in building up objective knowledge, no matter what it is, rather than defending a certain position. Do not claim I am biased because I presuppose God does not exist. Not believing in something is the default position, or the null hypothesis. In order to know something exists, we have to show that the idea that it does not exist is very unlikely.

 

Do present an entire worldview based on philosophical and empirical evidence. I became an atheist because the weight of the evidence of these deductions became so great that I could not deny the conclusion. If you want to convince me that God exists, let alone that your religion is true you need to present an entire worldview backed up by lots of evidence that is so overwhelming that it cannot be denied. This is what caused me to make the shift from Christianity to atheism; one piece of evidence did not convince me. It took an entire worldview with lots of arguments and evidence in order to do so.

 

Do present God him/herself. Allow me to have a conversation with this deity, ideally, multiple conversations. Allow him or her to present their powers to me. I am like Thomas the Doubter, I want to put my fingers in his wounds (figuratively) and see for myself (John 20:25). Ideally, I would like to be verified by a psychologist that I am not crazy, and I would like others, especially trained individuals to be able to observe and record the same as me. This is because God is truly extraordinary and it requires firm evidence to believe that he really is all he is cracked up to be. I need to be sure I am not being taken advantage of, or that I am not insane.

 

I know this seems like a tall order. I know you may think that this is impossible. However, this is what is required to convince me God exists. You cannot appeal to faith, or the Bible, or any preconceptions in your worldview that I do not hold. You have to present reliable scientific and philosophical evidence, if not God himself. You have to wrap all of these things up in a convincing and well supported narrative. This is what it took for me to lose my faith to begin with, and this is what it will take for me to regain it.

 

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18 Replies to “What Would Convince Me to Believe in God”

  1. The root and core of the problem is you don’t want to believe in God. You challenge others to submit proof of a supernatural reality while limited to natural means. You know that is impossible, which renders your request disingenuous, does it not?

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    1. While you are quick to point out problems instead of address the inability of any supernatural claims to be verified by more than feelings and premonitions, you are also incorrect in your assumption. The author and most of the non believers do not start from a place of knowing and then search for confirmation. And nowhere did it say above that we “don’t want to believe in god” but quite clearly says that if there was anything more than circumstantial hearsay and fallacious circular logic we would, using the scientific method and logic, analyze the claims.

      Your objection:
      “You challenge others to submit proof of a supernatural reality while limited to natural means.”

      The Problem with this is that there is no way to quantify and validate the supernatural as there is no evidence that it actually exists. The human mind and the physical universe operates in a naturally limited reality that is the basis and origin/null hypothesis that we all must start from when testing claims. If you make claims of the supernatural and it cannot be limited to “natural means” then we have no other obligation to but to dismiss your claims for future analysis. For if claims do not have to be limited to the natural laws then what is the point, everything is possible and nothing is refutable, feelings and emotions would be just as powerful as gravity and the nuclear forces.

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      1. Deafilosophy, it is contradictory to present a priori conclusions then claim to have an open mind. Put another way, you will not be able to consider evidence when you’ve already decided to disregard it.

        As to my claim that demanding proof (I note the switch from “evidence” to “proof”) of a supernatural being when limited to natural means, you tacitly admitted that that only leaves dismissal of claims. Again, it is an a priori position that no supernatural being exists. Evidence abounds, but proof does not, as one would expect if God is truly who He says He is.

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      2. “A Priori conclusions” Once again you are mistaken in your assumptions. Clearly stated, multiple times now:

        “…if there was anything more than circumstantial hearsay and fallacious circular logic we would, using the scientific method and logic, analyze the claims.”

        While presenting absolutely nothing more than the fallacies Argumentum Ad Populum and Argumentum Ad Antiquitatem, there is no other scientific evidence as to the supernatural in any way, shape, or form. Nothing resembling the human archetypal deistic notion has ever been recorded or experienced in a repeatable manner as to verify it’s existence. Asking for proof in your terms, you are still the only person using such a term, is inaccurate when considering the scientific endeavors to explain what the real mechanics that control the universe are. The scientific process is not one of determining the conclusion before the experimentation, and trust me if you could show me that to a very high probability that transmutation (water into wine) and reanimation (life after death) were not physically impossible then as a practicing skeptical scientist I would accept your factual data backed findings.

        When you define proof you are speaking of 100 percent, while probability reaching 6 sigma is the scientific definition of proof or fact. So when you imply that the scientific notions I put forth only leave the “dismissal of claims” you are quite correct as the concept of proving a negative is impossible and outside MY burden of proof. I present the entirety of the physical body of human scientific knowledge as astounding evidence that there is so little probability to supernatural beings capable of meeting the requirements of godhood that I can, at this time, dismiss the claim that god exists. It is this malleability, the ability to manipulate the conclusion to the evidence prevented that supersedes religious absolutism and critiques its fallacy.

        You on the other hand have all the right to claim that such a super duper is just that much more powerful and smart that it can remain just that far outside our understanding that his followers (you of course may not have picked the right god is always a possibility) regularly destroy that which it has made in ultimate sacrifice and love. Your extraordinary claim requires extra ordinary evidence and of course any claim made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

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      3. “Nothing resembling the human archetypal deistic notion has ever been recorded or experienced in a repeatable manner as to verify it’s existence”

        There is no reasonable expectation that a supernatural being could be tested (or “recorded or experienced”), repeatable or no, by those limited to natural means.

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  2. The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. It’s not up to me to demonstrate why God does not exist, it’s on the person claiming he is.

    As for the supernatural, yes, it could exist, but that could mean a wide variety of things, and without evidence, why should I believe any of it? You can’t know the supernatural unless it interacts with the natural somehow. Stuff beyond the natural is just “unknowable” and it isn’t worth reflecting upon, since ANYTHING (as in, there are infinite possibilities) could exist beyond what we have here in front of us.

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    1. You said that “The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. It’s not up to me to demonstrate why God does not exist, it’s on the person claiming he is.” You see, why it is not up to you to demonstrate why God does not exist? And if I say, “The burden of proof is on the person making the claim (that God does not exist). It’s not up to me to demonstrate why God does exist, it’s on the person claiming that he does not.” What would you say?

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  3. Ok is it not proof that every living thing on Earth is made up of cells some one and others like humans; billions.Every living thing knows exactly what they are made to do(even the things without brains) Each living thing has a job, duty, instinct, schedule, routine, structure and order according to their species ? All in all; all creatures have a part in sustaining life; except humans. Each human is made up of the same kinds of things but no two look alike think alike or act alike. Look up any other species the information is widespread for that species. Then humans break that cycle. That tells me that all other living things not only sustain life for themselves but for humans. So why are we superior? We have equally good and bad qualities; but most strive to do good and that is the only instinct I can think of that we can’t control.
    When I look in the mirror , do I expect people to see what I see? Probably and I don’t think about everybody seeing everything differently. It’s proven we are each different down to our fingerprints and DNA. It’s a clue loud and clear. I look at life as a whole and clearly the bet- a war; between good and evil. I don’t know or see who is betting just as I cannot see an atom. I also never thought about it until recently and wrote page after page about the meaning of life etc and I won’t share here because you stated about opinions. It isn’t my opinion though and I don’t know why I wrote it really. I know the bible isn’t all true maybe very little of it is. I know it’s rewritten skips around and leaves out chunks of proven history. I wonder why people think God is religious. Maybe he swears maybe he doesn’t speak our languages we made up and wouldn’t know the difference. The patterns and truth tell me a being so much bigger than us has a rather routine structure to life that we can’t figure out and that tells me we are the experiments to which will prevail; the good being or the evil being and therefore there is no way that GOD or superior being can intervene past a point with humans. The suffering and dying often reach out to God and put trust in him. Why? Are they close to death ? Is it fear of going to Hell? Why if there were nothing would most humans naturally want or know to be good. Why reproduce? Why does the human body have so many mind blowing facts about the way it works? My parents didn’t teach me to be good yet I instinctively knew to do good gave me a good feeling and bad things gave me guilt. There’s a reason for humans to have the ability to make choices. I think the positive and negative entities; God and Satan; what have you; have been battling this for a long time and through more than just our current species. Doesn’t it seem like the good wants to replace and get rid of all the ones proven to betray him like Satan. I have much more to explain why it points to proof but I think that kinda sums up an idea of what I can clearly see.

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  4. You lost me at the beginning of your post. I simply don’t see the world in that way, and cannot agree with even the most basic assumptions. I don’t agree animals know what they were “made” to do, because I don’t think they were made. And while we have an ecosystem built around sustaining life, that does not mean this was designed. After all, via natural selection, 99.9% of all the species to ever exist are now dead, and only the ones that actually have the adaptability to adjust to the environment they are in survive. So it only makes sense that the ones that remain give the illusion of serving a purpose, when in reality, they’re just the ones that are able to survive given the environment. Even then that environment is pretty precarious and change is deadly. Adding invasive species from another continent to another can make many native species go extinct. This includes us as well, considering we’ve hunted several species to extinction.

    As for humans being different, at this point, we are unique, but this is a pretty recent development. Until we started civilizations a few thousand years ago and began building knowledge generation after generation, we were just apes. We hunted. We gathered. We lived short lives and then die. Civilization has allowed us to become something different, but it doesn’t mean we were made differently, but that we evolved enough intelligence to adapt to the world around us.

    Much of these arguments seem based on the argument from design, that because we look designed, we are designed. Which is not true. As I hinted above, I do believe that we are designed. I do understand why people think we look designed, but I think this is just an illusion given to us by natural selection. We are not created for this world, we are merely the species that adapted to it. Because if we didn’t adapt to it, we would be dead, like 99.9% of species to ever exist. Looked at in terms of probabilities, with us being 1 of millions of species, on a single planet in a solar system of planets, in a galaxy of solar systems, in a cluster of galaxies, in a universe of clusters of galaxies, I don’t really think we’re that significant at all in the grand scheme of things. It’s easy to think we are from our own perspective, but considering how many dead species there are, and how many dead planets, and no evidence for any creator, it seems more like we just happen to be a statistical anomaly.

    That being said, I also don’t see the world in terms of black and white, good and evil either. I think this is a construct given to us by religion to guide our thinking, much like the concept of design. Wanna know what I realized when I became an atheist? That the world is a cold, apathetic place. It doesn’t care if we live or die. There is no intrinsic meaning of life, and all meaning is derived from human beings themselves. Heck, our world uses suffering and death, which I would say is the very embodiment of evil from my own perspective, to weed out the weak and reward the strong. Very rarely in the history of human action do I see pure good or pure evil in the world any more. I see mixed motives. I see shades of grey. I see people who do good things for selfish reasons, and people who do evil things for good reasons. We have a drive to survive like we do because if we did not, we would’ve joined the 99.9% of species that don’t exist any more.

    That being said, I disagree with your worldview. I think that the concept of design is kind of like an optical illusion. It appears that way…until you notice the trick that makes it appear that way. In reality, we have it backwards. There is no design, rather, we evolved to adapt to our environment, and at our level of intelligence, even have figured out how to manipulate our environment to maximize our living potential (hence, cities, farming, etc.). If we were not able to adapt to our environment like this, we would be dead, and not able to talk about this like we are doing now.

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    1. At least you agree that what you say is your opinion and not facts. All the time you say, “I think”. You have the right to say what “you think” as all have, and I respect that right, but that does not mean that what you “think” is a fact. This should be enough.

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  5. Each time I write a reply its been getting erased before I send it so I won’t elaborate much and if you want explanation of any one thing or more just ask. First of all what you state as proofs are in fact not. Evolution is not proven and is the most far fetched theory ! You say in we evolved and then you say 99.9% of early species have died off. So you say we evolved from something extinct? Climate change and volcanic eruptions and modern man were said to kill off the early species. If modern man killed off the Neanderthals; who in fact survived many climate changes hence the belief modern man killed them off; then how did we evolve? Where is your proof or evidence of mankind adapting to the Earth? So you mean since there was air we grew lungs to breathe it? Since it was cold we still didn’t grow a furry coat to keep us warm? It’s absurd. How did we grow anyway? I mean the first human? If we weren’t made how did we come to be and you’re telling me your opinion ( not evidence or proof) is that we came to be by a whirlwind of atoms and carbons and everything and it produced emotion and consciousness? You don’t find that more far fetched and supernatural? Why if we are but an illusion of design does every system in our bodies work together to keep us functioning like the most precise machine which is also a product of fabrication-made by something or someone. I have never seen or heard of a machine or computer making itself but yet that theory gives you the best evidence?

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  6. What you say also could go both ways; a contradiction. I once saw a craw dad while exploring the New River Cave in VA It was deep into the pitch dark cavern in a pool of water. It was almost transparent and had no eyes. What would it need them for? He lived in total darkness. There were a bunch of them in that pool of water all without eyes. How do you explain this? Do you assume over time they stopped growing eyes because of the darkness and how or what knew that they didn’t need them or did their maker jus leave out the eyes because they wouldn’t need them? Does this sound like glass half empty or glass half full kinda thing. That’s just BS-ing. Your theories are more supernatural than that of a believer in a supreme being a being that is so much bigger than us we could never see this being just like we can’t see many organisms with our eyes and no special equipment. Cells, atoms, and even microorganisms we cannot see exist!! Even if you had God right in front of you I bet you still wouldn’t believe. No matter what proof you saw or had you would not believe it. You rather believe in scientific facts but where are they? All you got is fancy wording and you are talking in circles twisting it around but it’s still the same thing!! Heck scientists don’t even know what 68% of our universe is. You elaborate there is a bunch of dead planets and nothing but I bet you take one planet moon or ounce of gravity away and we would be seriously compromised. It is designed and we don’t understand it we can never understand because it is too big. The things you lean towards that supposedly prove no God are like magic tricks or nothing I have seen or ever been documented. Please do tell of all this evidence that we were not made but evolved of the extinct species before us. Where’s the inbetween species.? Why do we not form out of nothing now? And I MUST know how you explain that!! How did the first person become?? Then answer why it is easier to believe nothing made it even though nothing on Earth can exist without being made but wait you say there’s more evidence etc of the contrary. Really? Give straight answers not gibberish or twisting of reasonings hoping to lose somebody’s train of thought because it tells me nothing. I see a designer making us I get that because everything I know of was made either by a natural cause or man made. You are angry you want proof so bad but yet the negativity of disbelief has consumed you and blinded your logic.

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  7. What proof do you have, that if God exists, that He would give more evidence for His existence than already is available? Why do you assume that God is even concerned for convincing you of his existence when , at least on Christian suppositions He is concerned with *reconciliation* of his elect creatures to Himself and not introduction to his being. What proof is there that having met all your conditions, that you would really believe in God, and not seek further naturalistic explanation for your experience? After all, other atheists have stated that even if they met God, they would not trust in Him or worship Him,so is the issue merely intellectual or is it actually in essence a moral issue?

    Finally, why be evaluated by a psychologist? What proof do you have that your current mental state is sound and that your atheism is not a delusion? Are you assuming your sense perception is generally reliable?

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