Forgive me if this topic has ever been posted before, but I am genuinely curious about the mindset of athiests on this issue.
What is the standard or measure you use to determine if God does or doesn’t exist? And how has this standard failed to prove to you God’s existence thus far?
Just so no one accuses me of being stealth-y in any way, I will tell you why I’m asking the question. Aside from sheer curiosity, as a born-again Christian I would like to know what to pray for more specifically for athiest friends. Understanding where you’re coming from will help me to do that. Obviously I am certain God exists, since I have a personal daily relationship with him. I would like all to share in the benefits and blessings of this, but obviously people who don’t believe God exists won’t even make an attempt at this relationship since (in their minds) there’s no one to relate to.
So how 'bout it? What would it take to prove God’s existence to you?
And BTW, please spell it “atheists.” An athiest is the person who believes in God less than anyone else. To be honest, I think the score thus far is that of all the usages of the word “atheist” by Christians on SDMB, maybe 10% of the time it was spelled correctly.
For me to believe in a particular god, there must be a logically coherent description of what that god is and what the religion demands. In the case of Yahweh/Jesus, the description is so incoherent that it’s impossible for me to determine what, exactly, I’m supposed to believe.
The evidence for that religion has to be greater than that for all other religions (obviously.)
There can’t be damning evidence against that religion.
This pretty much rules out any sort of Invisible Man religion. Mormonism fails #3 because of archaeological and other evidence. Mainstream christianity has less evidence in its favor than Mormonism, so that’s out.
I should also point out a corrolary to #1: a religion cannot believe in ethical relativism, and its god must be good. Otherwise, you have a sort of perverse Pascal’s wager: if God is evil, there is no way of knowing whether God is lying to you or not when he tells you how to get into heaven. Ergo, instead of following an evil God, you should simply always do what’s right, to the best of your ability.
It’d be pretty hard. No amount of showiness or miracles could do it. I could always atribute it to something like aliens or trickery. It would have to be a fundamental shift in my own mind and personality, something that made me feel that the world would have no purpose without god. Hope that helps. And even then, I’d be more likely to go Buddhist, since it seems most comfortable to me.
Give it a shot, friend, without making any reference to “faith”.
And, before you start, look up the definition of the word “proof”. You might also think about what is meant by “personal daily relationship”.
I promise that this is not an attack on your beliefs.
you can’t prove god’s existence to me. i’m am a recent atheist (i believe in divinity but not in a deity), but even as a believing Roman Catholic I felt that God was above the realm of proof.
any experience i have can always be seen in two ways. It really happened to me, or I imagined it. There is no way to tell the difference, and it really makes no difference to me. No, there are some ways that I can try to find out the difference (ask my friend if we really had a conversation, or if it was just a dream). That proves nothing still, but at least gives me a better idea of where the facts may stand.
god is such a subjective intimitely personal experience that there is no way to affirm or deny it.
The classical idea of god does not fit with what the ‘facts’ tell me about the universe and my existence. But my understanding of these facts change on a moment to moment basis, and I have no guarantee that I will believe the same things in the future as i do now. I don’t believe in god right now, but i don’t rule out the possibility of believing in the future (and if I did in the future, I would have yet the thought that I own’t believe again in the far future).
Most of the Christians I know who have been willing and able to objectively examine their beliefs (quite the minority) attribute their faith to some sort of inexplicable personal experience. This is what it would take for me.
This does, however, remind me of an argument I forgot to make. For a personal, omniscient god who wants to contact me- he has my number, so he can pick up the phone any time he likes. Even if I don’t know what my standard of proof is, such a god would, and such a god could therefore provide sufficient proof.
Brother FoG: I admire your goals, and I hope your prayers help, but- no one can have G-d “proven” to him. One must accept G-d on their own, thru inner faith.
jb: since you have some belief, you are not really an atheist. You just have not found a religion that fits your need, your faith. If you look, you will find it. It might be Unitarianism, or paganism, or something else, but someday you will find it, if you look.
No, not really. That’s why I said a recent atheist. I was relatively agnostic and simply areligious for some years, but I am certain (please read my first post for what i mean by ‘certain’) that the is no ‘go’ as defined by any religions.
I do believe that there is something greater. I have no idea what. And by divinity i mean some kind of holiness that people tap into. It could be an attribute of humanity or an outside thing, but it is not god-derived.
the something greater is not a force or a creator or a personality in any way.
Religion was invented by people who cannot accept that there are certain things that just can’t be explained (yet). They also invented grand stories which explain the unknown in a manner that comforts them. Unfortunately the stories themselves are flawed and are filled with contradictions. Also, 21st century zealots are continuously trying to relate to these “stories” which were written thousands of years ago. Our sense of morality has changed considerably since then (I hope).
How can you prove there is a god? Introduce me. In person.
All interesting responses so far. Keep em coming! For now I only want to respond to pl’s comment regarding my wanting to pray for atheist friends:
On the contrary, if someone knew about something they thought would make my life better and didn’t share it with me … I would not consider that person a friend. Hey if you know of a better way to make chocolate chip cookies or a better way to floss your teeth, don’t keep it to yourself for pete’s sake! So no, pl, to answer your question, it isn’t rude at all. I hope that helps ;).
But you miss the point. We do NOT see this as an added good. And therefore, trying to change something that wehave no need for is rude.
To explain with an example. My mother is trying to get me to get a two bedroom apartment. I say it’s rude. She says it would make my life better. Who’s right here? I would say me - I know my life better, and know what would improve it. For anyone to say that their thoughts/actions will improve my life, and they “know better” is offensive.
I have to wonder what’s next…convincing me your God is better than my Goddess?
I’m an atheist. To change my mind I would require evidence that met the following requirements:
After thinking about it, I decided that the proof would have to be physical. This is because I would require that a personal experience must not be rooted merely in my very human psychology if it is to constitute strong evidence for God. To control for this, such an experience would have to be one that is not shared by other supernatural “epiphany”-type knowledge, such as non-Judeo-Christian faiths, New Age movements, alien abductees, etc. All these groups have deep and sincere personal experiences, which I reject as not “true” in the sense I’m looking for. Since these delusions are taken up by humans with the same sort of brain function I have, unless I can be sure I am not undergoing the same sort of phenomena, I will remain skeptical. One cannot “just know” that such an experience is genuine. Observations of these other misguided sorts is proof of that. It would be self-important hubris to set myself above making such mistakes when my fellow humans clearly do. There has to be some sort of independent verification beyond my feelings, and the only thing I can think of is some sort of physical evidence.
There must be no other, more prosaic, explanation for the evidence than the will of God. Specifically, a physical event must defy physical law in an irrefutable way, subject to repeatable examination by me and any experts I may wish to call in to examine it. It HAS to be a real miracle, and correlate with some kind of knowable will of God (or else how do we know it’s a miracle? cccit could just be a new physical phenomenon). So obviously, proof of God, for me, requires that God NOT be completely inscrutable.
The evidence must form a logically consistent picture, neither self-contradictory, nor ambiguous. This doesn’t mean there can’t be gaps in knowledge, but those gaps must be subject to having their boundaries clearly delineated.
I consider a satisfying theodicy a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for me to believe in God as it is traditionally defined. Short of that, not even personal experiences or physics-defying miracles would convince me, as they would prove only certain aspects of God, not the whole package.