What would it take to change an athiest's mind?

To buy a starship, of course.

I don’t know that I could distinguish “evidence of God” from “evidence of a being with advanced technology”. I’m with **Kimstu **on this. It would probably be something spiritual within me (whatever the hell that is) that would make me change. Evidence of God seems self-contradictory.

Like some others in the thread, I don’t think I’m an atheist because of evidence or proofs or rationality or anything like that. I think I’m an atheist because I’m just an atheist. It’s the same reason that I am not very girly, or the same reason that I love pets, or the same reason that I love kettle corn.

When I was a believer, I was really bad at it and uneasy about it. I couldn’t really look at my beliefs. After abandoning them, I am able to see how little I believed in the first place, how little faith I had had. I feel normal, finally.

I imagine that even if I saw miracles, I’d still feel abnormal about believing. It would conflict with something that’s fundamentally me.

So, what would it take to change my mind? Something changing in my brain, I suspect.

Yeah, that.

Seriously, is this a trick question?

I have to say I might be just an agnostic, though, since I don’t utterly disbelieve the possibility of the existence of a god. However, given the lack of evidence despite thousands of years of research, I don’t give it much of a chance.

Niecely put. :wink:

It seems to me that if one defines “god” as “creator of existence,” then the necessary proof ought to involve the creation of another existence, or a compelling explanation of how such a thing was accomplished to begin with. So the “whirlwhind tour” option seems like a good start to me.

Obviously this isn’t going to completely exclude the alternatives of mental illness/dream state, “hypothetical beings advanced enough to seamlessly fake universe-creating abilities without actually having such abilities,” or even “hypothetical beings with the ability to create existence, but who in fact did not.” But I think these may be insurmountable philosophical problems. I’ve dreamed that I met God on a few occasions, and he seemed pretty convincing at the time. Alas, he seemed disinclined to provide any insights that remained persuasive upon waking.

One thing’s certain, though: if existence does have a creator, and they care at all about whether we believe in them or not, then they really ought to bring their own arguments to the table instead of letting others endlessly and bloodily argue the matter for them. Showing up for the debate is the first step.

" The Way that can be told of is not an unvarying way;
The names that can be named are not unvarying names.
It was from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang;
The named is but the mother that rears the ten thousand creatures, each after its kind."

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
- Hebrews (ch. XI, v. 1)

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
- Hebrews (ch. XI, v. 6)
I’m thinking god is not going to do magic tricks to convince me that s/he/it is real. :stuck_out_tongue:


Babel Fish

Yeah, there was a big pile of jest in there. The bible says that Jesus performed miracles, but that was written down after generations of people passing down a word of mouth description of what someone saw. So, the person who saw the miracle could have been duped, or the story could have gotten exagerated along the way, or maybe some of both.

Bottom line is, I’d have to personally witness a miracle - not a parlor trick. I’d love to witness the storms in Jupiter’s red spot. If some guy could transport me - flying through air and space and Jupiter’s atmosphere while I was fully awake - to Jupiter, and let me stand on it’s surface without getting hurt from the trip or the crushing gravity of the giant planet, that would be a miracle.

But, after reading other’s responses, it occurs to me that a truly all powerful God would just put my belief in him in my brain. It seems easy enough.

Nothing would convince me, if a sufficiently advanced entity was claiming "God"hood, I’d find it easier to belive said lifeform as nothing more than an ultra-advanced lifeform

“Any sufficiently advanced technology (or lifeform) is indistinguishable from magic” pretty much sums it up for me

I think I need a glimpse of heaven, and a guided tour. Maybe just a quite chat with god where he answers all my questions with something besides, “because” or “you wouldn’t understand”.

Maybe if you threw a party.

With luck some part of my mind would resist that being convincing, since I don’t know how to distinguish God changing my mind from a brain fart changing my mind.

If we eliminate miracles as possibly being done by aliens, how about the resolution of all moral dilemmas, since God supposedly has access to the answer. There is a problem with that - the resolution of moral dilemmas in the Western view of God is pretty much random, and comes from God saying “because I said so, and I’m bigger than you and created the universe and watch sparrows fall and stuff.” Still, a god who is a big Dear Abby where everyone agrees with his answers would be pretty convincing.

Nitpick: Generation, not generations would be more accurate since you’re talking not about a generation in the traditional sense (ie, about 20 or 25 years) but about people handing down oral traditions. It’s quite possible that the oral traditions were handed down only once before some of the Gospels were written (about 70 AD for Mark, and 75 AD for Matthew). It possible, though I don’t know how likely, that the writers were alive during JC’s ministry, even if they didn’t know him personally. And some of Paul’s writings date to about 50 AD (although we are certain that Paul didn’t know JC personally).

You’re correct about the Old Testament, though. That was certainly handed down orally for generations before it was written down in the form we have it today.

Hey, I’m down with the whole “water into wine” thing. If someone can do that, and he wants me to call him “God”, I’m in.

Here’s the thing.

There have been innumberable conceptions of supernatural beings since the beginning of human history. Sometimes some of those supernatural beings were supposed to have created various things…the sun, the moon, the earth, humans, animals, horses, the Grand Canyon, or whatever.

Now, we clearly don’t think that the Grand Canyon was dug by some giant supernatural cowboy nowadays. If I saw a giant cowboy who called himself Pecos Bill and who claimed that he dug the Grand Canyon, I wouldn’t believe him, even if he was able to dig another Grand Canyon next to the first one to prove he had the ability to do it. And the fact that a being that can dig a giant canyon exists does not mean that said being is the uncaused first cause.

A being with the ability to create burning bushes, or islands from the bottom of the sea, or to create human beings out of unliving matter, or restore human beings to life, is simply a being that has that power. I see no reason to equate such a being with “God”, as most thoughtful modern theists concieve of God. Even a being that created the Earth and populated it with animals and plants and human beings and that can read minds and the foretell the future is not such a being.

Even though I don’t believe beings like Zeus, Osiris, YHWH, Odin, or Ganesh exist, I can imagine such entities existing, but not that such entities actually caused the universe to exist. See, the trouble is that the universe is what we scientists call “really really big”. Our galaxy alone contains a hundred billion stars. Our galaxy is only one of millions of galaxies in the observable universe. A guy with one eye who hung from a tree for nine days as a sacrifice to himself so he could learn the secrets of the runes is not God, no matter how many giants he killed, no matter if he created the first man and the first woman. Odin didn’t create the universe.

So this is why miracles and signs and wonders and portents would not convince me that God exists. It would convince me that some entity or entities existed that were more powerful than human beings, but not that these entities were God, any more than the existance of Superman would convince me to worship Superman.

That said, I can imagine things like research into the fundamental nature of consciousness eventually proving things like personal survival of the self after death, the existance of some greater consciousness, and somehow connecting that greater consciousness to the Big Bang via some radical new theories of Physics. I don’t expect any such thing to happen…I expect research into consciousness to eventually show that consciousness is entirely a phenomenon of a brain composed of ordinary matter. But I could be wrong, although I don’t expect that I’m wrong.

But it seems to me that supernatural entities that roam the earth performing inexplicable deeds are pretty far from an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being that created the entire universe, and intends to have a personal relationship with every sentient being in that universe. And even an entity that kick-started the big bang does not have to be “God” in that sense.

I can imagine an alien scientist in another universe playing around with a universe generator and creating our universe simply as a research project, and that alien scientist could very well be a being of the same order as we humans. Contrariwise, I can imagine a compassionate entity that created all human beings, and intends for us to live in spiritual communion with it, and yet that entity might not have anything to do with the creation of the universe or the physical laws of the universe, but is rather a created being and we are subcreated beings. Or a vast conscious being that created the universe but does not have a personal relationship with us, akin to Olaf Stapleton’s Starmaker.

I could accept that God = “The Universe”, although I’m not sure that would really mean anything. Or, I could accept that God = “That which is beyond the comprehension of the human mind”. But if that last definition were true, then there would be no evidence that I could comprehend that would prove God’s existence. Therefore, nothing could convince me, empirically, of the existence of God.

Nothing could change an athiest’s mind. By definition of the word, there is no one athier.

I can’t think of any proof that could be presented for which there would be no better, simpler explanation than “God”. And as said, how could we tell ? A being wouldn’t have to be anywhere near God-level to fool any mere human.

And then there’s the question of what people mean by God. I can imagine proof that would convince me that the universe is artificial, and that the being(s) that did it are far beyond us, but that doesn’t make them God. I regard the concept of God to be illogical in itself. Sure, you can redefine God to mean something other than what most people mean and claim that means that God can exist, but then I could redifine God to mean that my socks are God.