What Would It Take to Prove God's Existence to You?


Nice post. You know… answering a question with a question is usually considered a Jewish tactic… ;j

Dinsdale, you posted:

I believe in God, and even I can see the flaw in your argument. I’m no logician, but isn’t that circular? If I can pull off a “demonstration that eludes explanation by current scientific knowledge,” all I would have proven is that I know more than anyone else.

Or that I’m a kick-ass magician.

Similarly, someone posted here that a prediction of the events of the next 24 hours would convince them of God’s existence. All that would prove is that I (or whoever) can see the future. Who needs God to do that? All that takes is a time machine! Sure, a time machine is impossible to build according to “current scientific knowledge,” but… see above.

In short, the only thing that convince a person to believe in God is their own decision, based on personal experience.

Which, incidentally, is how it should be.

Actually, there is nothing that I can think of that would prove God’s existence. However, Triskadecamus seems to be on the right track. (With the first post, not the latest. I’ve been smacked around with a bible, and it didn’t do a damned thing except hurt.) If you want me to believe that your way of life is inherently better than my own, then you need to live it in such a way that I cannot help but be impressed. Won’t make me believe in God, but it will greatly expand my respect for you.

Although, I wouldn’t necessarily turn down a large Swiss bank account, either.

Flick Lives!

sd, note I prefaced my remarks, “To begin…”
Till He/She/It/They go that far, it’s just a story.

Former christian and minister chiming in: Ive promised myself I wouldn’t patrticipate in these religious debates (Ive lurked though)but this time I thought my perspective might contribute something.

The hardest decision Ive ever made was rejecting a belief I had since childhood. Do I regret it, NO. I guess the main reason (there were lots) I had to reject what I formally believed was the manner in which I had to maintain belief.

That being a rejection of my own intelligence. Statements like We hamans can’t comprehend the nature…, The Mysterious Ways arguments… You have to trust …

The arguments have always led me to the same conclusion that there’s something inherrently wrong with me (or people in general) , and I reject that notion. If I believe in anything it’s that human beings have the intelligence to make themselves better(or worse). A belief in a divine intelligence who would guide us to a better “personhood” to me is the ultimate rejection of personal responsibility.

First, since I’m utterly convinced on empirical evidence, my answer counts for nothing, unless you have managed to convince God that he should put in subjective in-the-head appearances suitable to convert everybody reading this thread. And that does not seem to be a part of His game plan at the moment. (And, frankly, Friend, though I’ve come to respect you, I’m inclined to think that He knows what is needed and when a whole lot better than either of us do…) :slight_smile:

Second, Tris said:

Consider checking a mirror, my friend! :slight_smile:

Third, I want to address some comments Phil made. Mostly, my modus operandi would be that which Tris has already posted, so I haven’t addressed Friend’s question up until now. Besides, most regulars here know where I’m coming from on this, and even the politest statement of it can get a bit “old” if repeated too often.

Anyway, Phil, I understand and respect the position you and Gaudere have taken as relatively happy people who are not particularly interested in the idea that the Christian God is around and wants to get in touch with you. And given some of the bad press He’s gotten lately, I think I can see your point! :frowning:

However, knowing from my own experience (we are talking here of my perception) that a relatively happy life becomes even better and fuller in the awareness of His love and providence, I feel that it is a part of my responsibility as your friend to be upfront that I feel this way and to post in dialogue with you from that point of view – being very careful to respect the intellectual probity and the system of facts, “beliefs”*, and opinions that lead you to the view you have. If my presence as a person with that stance is offensive, then I apologize. But I think that we have demonstrated that we can advocate our divergent views with mutual respect and forbearance, and gain insight that benefits us all from the exchanges.

[* “belief” in the previous paragraph is meant in the common usage of a conception not proven but accepted as almost certainly true on the preponderance of evidence or lack thereof, in the connotative usage where any of us could say “I believe that there is not a purple dragon breathing fire just beyond the nearest wall I can see from where I sit.”]

And one final point addressing the OP: To those of us who are Christians, we have one specific bit of advice on instilling belief, and it does not read, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, that you smite them right heartily with thy theologies and thy prooftexts.” :slight_smile:

Frankly FoG, I feel you are a real and genuine coward who lacks self conviction in his own faith. Why else would you seek to convert others to your brand of dimentia. What makes your type of crazy so much better than all the others? What makes you think an atheist has more trouble getting through the day simply on his/her own convictions than you? Do yourself and everyone else a favour; Worry about yourself and trust everyone else to take care of themselves. You can be sure that if anyone ever needs your kind of help, they will come running to find you, on Howling_Fanatics.com.


I can respect that, Poly. There’s a big difference between that and “I’m going to pray that you find god,” which to me is an insulting and facile way of saying, “I’m going to wish that you believe something other than what you do, specifically, to change it to what I believe; because my way is better for me, therefore it must be better for you.”

If I didn’t post what I think and believe from an atheist/humanist standpoint, I wouldn’t be me. If I spent my free time trying to make you an atheist, I’d be an asshole. Not that I’m not, but, well, you get it.

Thanks, Phil.

Uh, QuickSilver, you miss a significant point. On FoG’s estimate of reality, Jesus is a very real personage whom he encounters in daily life in subtle ways (as do I). And he has taken Him as Lord. FoG is under orders from Him to “go forth unto all the world, preaching the Good News and making disciples of all men.” He’s doing his best to understand where the rest of us are coming from, so that he can carry out the mission he’s been tasked with.

Personally, I think he’s going about it all the wrong way, and have told him as much on these boards. But that’s his decision, not mine. Having offered my counsel, and occasionally reinforcing it (see above), I need to keep my peace and let him do the job he feels called to do in the way he feels will work.

It’s entirely possible he and I are deluded in having felt we have had this experience of the numinous in our lives. It’s entirely possible you are wrong in denying that we might have had it. But he is acting on the courage of his convictions. Facing the ridicule of people who believe he’s crazy as a loon for thinking he’s encountered God is not fun – believe me! – and he could slink back over to the Left Behind board and talk about those arrogant atheists who think they run the world and how they just won’t listen. He may be wrong; he may be going about things all the wrong way; but he’s brave enough to keep trying…and doing it out of love for (God and) humanity, Gaudere, David B., QuickSilver, Polycarp, and PLDennison included.

There is no standard, because there is no standard definition of God. Also, nearly all the definitions that I do hear are far too vague to even go about trying to prove or disprove. However, I disbelieve in the traditional Judeo-Christian god because the way the world is isn’t the same as how the world would be if such a being existed. Of course, I leave open the possibility of there being such a god, but I find the possibility remote.

I refer all interested parties to http://www.infidels.org , a wonderful website for information on atheism. I’m fairly certain they have articles on this exact topic.

I’m with tracer. It would have to be an unambiguous revelation to everyone in the whole world, at the same time, something like rearranging the stars to spell out a message. That way, I have reliable sources to back up my own observation. If he/she/it were to reveal him/her/itself to me alone, I would scurry off to the doctor to get some Thorazine.

However, if it turned out to be the God of the Bible, I would believe in his existence, but I wouldn’t like him very much, and therefore end up in Hell, which is where I would be going if I retained my non-belief anyway. So I guess my belief wouldn’t change me or my circumstances a bit.

Not for me. I ain’t falling for that twice.

A few years back I had the only significant religious experience of my life. The sort of experience that I think most people can only achieve through years of prayer or meditation, or maybe recreational drug use. I was an agnostic at that point, but I became convinced that there must be some sort of higher power.

I completely lost this conviction when I realized that my big religious experience was actually one of the earliest signs that I was developing a brain tumor. Personal experience no longer carries much weight with me in matters of religion. I don’t know what it would take to make me one of the faithful. An Old Testament style display of godly might could make me believe in a deity, but there’s a big difference between believing that something exists and worshipping it.

Poly -

I have not missed that point at all. Though I heartily disagree with the root cause of your perception of God, I do not deny you, FoG or Lib the right to believe in whatever you choose as long as it does not impinge on my right to do the same.

Though I cannot be absolutely sure, I believe that FoG is experiencing the euphorics of the mob mentality of his religous group. I do not mean to sound condescending (though I probably will) but I feel he is simply worked up in a self rightuous lather from his latest church gymboree.

Why continue to allow the guy to labour under such a misguided view. I realize you are not his keeper. Neither am I. I guess I feel less compulsion to grant him latitude than you do. Can you blame me though? After all, he is not telling you that you need saving.

Now let’s not start that again… :wink:


Brave, stupid… it’s a fine line… :stuck_out_tongue:

I am agnostic, falling short of absolute atheism merely by my own lack of conviction. (To call myself atheist, I’d have to believe my judgment in the matter to be irrefutable. So as an exercise in humility I refrain from labeling myself atheist.)

That said, I think most of the people responding to you here have missed the point. And I think FoG has missed the point, too.

Faith–therefore faith in a god–is that which cannot be proven.

Flannery O’Connor said: “Would you want to worship a god you could *understand? *”

If its existence could be proven, it would not be God.

So FoG, keep praying, if that’s what your faith tells you to do. But stop imagining you can find a loophole into someone else’s faith.

Lissener, if you haven’t been lurking long enough to have read them yet, scrounge around in back lists of posts – there are some very cogent posts in which our two moderators and some of their clear fellow thinkers define themselves as “soft atheists” – their term; mine for them is “pragmatic atheists” – who hold effectively your belief structure but go the step of holding the presumption (in the legal sense) of the nonexistence of a god through Occam’s Razor (more or less). Sounds like where you’re coming from.

To respond to the gist of your post…a heartfelt “Maybe!”

Gaudere has suggested that an Obvious God would still leave room for free will. I differ with her on that point. To resurrect an analogy that I’ve overworked, I have faith in my wife, not because I’m intellectually certain of her existence, but because I’m morally certain of her devotion to me. Different meaning for “faith” – another issue that we’ve dissected.

This is an argument that just won’t wash. Many things can be meant by “faith.” I have faith in my wife. I believe in her love for me and I trust her implicitly. This seems to be the faith we are asked to have. Faith in God, not just that he exists. To say that God cannot reveal himself because it would destroy faith flies in the face of the fact that he supposedly revealed himself a whole bunch of times during Biblical days. Do you maintain that Moses, Noah, Abraham, and the others had no faith because they had direct knowledge of God?

Um, are you arguing my points now, Poly? I believe I said exactly that: that God could conclusively demonstrate his existence (as your wife has demonstrated her existence), and man would still be able to freely choose to love or not love God, based on His apparent attributes and explanations. You, IIRC, argued that evidence acceptable to convince the vast majority of people of the existence of God would take away their ability to choose to not love Him–I am assuming you think we will be forced to love Him due to His sheer awesomeness–but evidence of the existence of God of the level you and RT and Lib (and, as Pthalis pointed out, Saul and Moses and Adam, etc.) find acceptable does not take away your free will. Should I find a burning bush willing to chat me up that is not the result of someone with a Bic and a megaphone, God would have a good chance of getting me to believe in Him…which is kind of a necessary first step to loving Him. I do not mean to harp on you regarding a point you wish to drop, but I truly do not understand your answer if you are using your faith in your wife as an analogy for faith in God.

All I’m saying is that almost everyone’s response to the OP–and indeed FoG’s OP–are predicated on the principle that GOD is subject to human logic; that GOD is understandable to a human mind.

I truly believe that this basic principle is untenable. If GOD’s existence were proved to me, I believe I would be less likely to ‘worship’ it than if I arrived at that faith more, well, mysteriously.

Further, I believe (as I’ve stated elsewhere, in another thread) that if you believe in GOD then you live in a universe in which there is GOD. If you don’t believe in GOD, then you live in a universe in which there is no GOD. GOD exists in the universe as it exists in your mind, and is not a phenonemon, but rather a way of understanding. I live in a universe in which there is no GOD, but neither is there an absence of GOD.

As for ‘refuting’ my post (which is irrefutable because it is not a statement of fact, but an attempt to share the map of the universe I carry around in my mind) by presenting me with a problem of logic involving “Moses, Noah, Abraham, and the others [who] had direct knowledge of God,” you’re beginning with a false premise, so the problem of logic does not stand. In addition to which, and to repeat myself, see my bit above in re GOD/logic.

Most (or all) theists do not assume they can understand God; that’s the whole “faith” and “mysterious ways” thing. They have been provided with evidence that is sufficent for them to belive in His existence, and evidence sufficient for them to believe in His Goodness, love, compassion, etc., but I’ve never met anyone that claimed to fully understand God. But most do assume that God is subject to logic; otherwise the explanation that Evil must exist for Good to exist kind of falls apart (among other things). You may believe that God is not bound by logic, but it makes it very hard to say anything about Him; He could be both wholly good and wholly evil at the same time. That might inspire worship, but probably not love and trust. There are plenty of things I don’t understand, but I don’t love and trust them simply because I can’t understand them; I love and trust what I think merits it, whether it is fully understandable or not.

Theists have evidence that is sufficient for them to believe, just as we all have evidence that we consider sufficient for ourselves to believe in whatever we do believe in. If a mystic understanding of God appeals to you personally, fine, but other people have had more prosaic evidence of God than that and yet chose to worship Him. I do not think that the well established existence of anything means that it must be/can be be understood; I certainly think my TV exists, but I do not understand it! Nor do I always understand my fellow humans. :wink:

[Edited by Gaudere on 08-08-2000 at 06:25 PM]

I appreciate all of your responses. They help me see where you guys are coming from.

It seems there are several general themes emerging…

  1. It’s impossible to prove God exists and/or impossible to
    understand God so the question is moot.

  2. It would take a personal experience / encounter with God.

  3. It would take God just making Himself obvious to me. He
    has my number so He should do this.

  4. It would take irrefutable miracles of some form or

  5. It would take observing the life of a strong Christian.
    There may be more, but these are the five main ones that I can see anyway from this previous batch of responses.

For me personally, the ONE THING that I’ve ever seen in my life that convinced a skeptic of not only God’s existence but God’s LOVE for them … was # 5.

Rather than commenting on everyone’s individual comments, I would like to take note of things about these 5 themes.

  1. I would submit to those who think it impossible to
    prove God exists … that this cannot be true. There
    are many, many people in the world today who did not
    believe in God at one time in their lives, and they
    are serving Him with a whole heart today. So God was
    proven to these people in one way or another.

  2. Regarding having a personal experience with God … this
    to me is the end result God is after. The whole point
    of WHY God pursues you so much throughout your life
    is that He deeply loves you and wants a personal
    relationship with you. But it rarely “just happens”.
    See next point.

  3. This is the one I really want to address. As far as I
    know, God rarely works this way. He does woo you
    and try to draw you and get your attention throughout
    your life, but at the same time you must seek after
    Him if you want to find Him. If you sit around
    waiting for a Neon Sign in the sky, it’ll never happen.

    ‘And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for
    Me with all your heart’ (Jer 29:13)

  4. Actually, miracles are a pretty legitimate one. Seeing
    a medically verifiable healing can be pretty convincing.
    But EVEN that is probably not enough for most people.
    I would tend to think there would need to be something
    more although I could be wrong.

  5. As I said, this is the one that really seems to work.
    More below.

I’ve said several times on this board … if you want to check out Christianity, check out Christians. Check out real-life born-again believers and hang out with them for a couple of months in church groups. And make sure it’s a healthy church with Godly people.

You’ll find people that are imperfect for sure, but you will see love demonstrated that can only be described as supernatural. It’s NOT human!

The biggest things that give evidence of God in this life is when a human being reacts to a situation in a very Godly way that is not naturally human. For example, some of the best evidences of God to me are …

… when a Christian asks their Bible Study group to pray for good things to happen to their boss, who regularly curses and yells at them and treats them unfairly …

… when a Christian refuses to lie to a customer even though he knows it will cost him a multi-million dollar business deal …

… when a Christian man looks the other way when a woman in a slinky dress leans over in front of him …

… when a Christian goes through a horrific tragedy and still trusts God and makes a point of finding things to be thankful for …

That’s an extremely small sampling, but most of them are not nebulous. I had specific people in mind on each one of those I just listed except the second one.

Now here’s the thing. You can decide the glass is half empty or the glass is half full. In other words, you can look at Christian failures in these areas and say “A-HA! That proves Christianity isn’t real”, or you can take a look at those who ARE living it out, and realize they have found something truly astonishing and life changing.

So that’s my two cents worth. I realize not all of you want to find God if He does exist. But if you do … I sincerely hope that you will seek out Godly Christians and watch them for several months. Yes you will see imperfection but you will also see evidence of a very supernatural God operating in their lives.


But many of us did search with all our heart, and we found no god.

How do you feel when atheists do those things? (Aside from the prayers, of course.)