Author Topic: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?  (Read 3355 times)

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Offline HAL

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Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« on: May 07, 2012, 06:11:57 PM »
Jstweb suggested I create a new thread for this, so here it is.

You asked me once what evidence I would require to believe in your god, and I asked you to help me out. I asked you how I could differentiate between a god and a highly advanced alien. I truthfully don't know how I could do that, so I need your assistance. I need to be able to tell the difference if something astounding should happen that I can't explain. I need to be able to tell if what I might be seeing a god do is really happening because of this god, or an advanced alien technology is doing it, or causing my mind to "believe" something that isn't real. This is not a joke question, it's very serious.

Can you help me out?

Offline Jstwebbrowsing

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2012, 06:31:48 PM »
Jstweb suggested I create a new thread for this, so here it is.

You asked me once what evidence I would require to believe in your god, and I asked you to help me out. I asked you how I could differentiate between a god and a highly advanced alien. I truthfully don't know how I could do that, so I need your assistance. I need to be able to tell the difference if something astounding should happen that I can't explain. I need to be able to tell if what I might be seeing a god do is really happening because of this god, or an advanced alien technology is doing it, or causing my mind to "believe" something that isn't real. This is not a joke question, it's very serious.

Can you help me out?

No this is actually intriguing and I have lightly thought about this before.  Are you asking if we took God out and replace him with an alien pretending to be God how could we tell the difference?
Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Isaiah 43:10

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2012, 06:38:01 PM »
The bible says 'Knock and the door shall be opened, seek and you shall find', however it also clearly teaches that God first loved us and that we cannot find God apart from Him making Himself known.

If you have searched for God and not found Him, it means He either has not made Himself known or you have ignored Him when he did make Himself known.

I suspect most people on this site will claim the first option (those that have sought God, I mean). So in response to that I would say "keep on searching" and don't ignore Him when you find Him. How will you know when you found Him? I think it's a different experience for everybody.

Constantly dwelling on reasons why he doesn't or couldn't exist probably isn't the best way of going about it.

Hope this helps.
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Offline HAL

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2012, 06:38:19 PM »
No this is actually intriguing and I have lightly thought about this before.  Are you asking if we took God out and replace him with an alien pretending to be God how could we tell the difference?

Thanks for engaging.

Well first, I don't know what evidence your deity could or would present, so you need to help me out with that, because you asked me what evidence I would accept, and I haven't a clue what your deity can provide for evidence.

Second, if you answer my first point, then how can I make sure that a highly advanced alien technology isn't pretending to be "god" to me, for whatever reason. As I said, if the technology is advanced enough, then I couldn't tell it apart from magic (i.e., a god).

So I have two huge problems for you to assist me with.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 06:41:14 PM by HAL »

Offline HAL

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2012, 06:40:02 PM »
If you have searched for God and not found Him, it means He either has not made Himself known or you have ignored Him when he did make Himself known.

This doesn't address the problem in any way.

Quote
Hope this helps.

It doesn't.

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2012, 06:41:58 PM »
I'll tiptoe away then.
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Offline HAL

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2012, 07:28:57 PM »
I'll tiptoe away then.

Mkay. You've done barely more than drool on your keyboard in my thread, but I hope you find better opportunities elsewhere on the forum.

Online One Above All

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2012, 12:53:44 AM »
BM
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline magicmiles

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2012, 12:57:26 AM »
Does posting 'BM' simply mean you can check on the progress of the thread with the "new replies to your posts" option?
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Online One Above All

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2012, 12:59:46 AM »
Yes.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline ILOVEYOU

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2012, 01:05:13 AM »
<snip>

Removed for preaching.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 09:48:13 AM by Alzael »

Offline joebbowers

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2012, 01:43:19 AM »
The bible says 'Knock and the door shall be opened, seek and you shall find', however it also clearly teaches that God first loved us and that we cannot find God apart from Him making Himself known.

If you have searched for God and not found Him, it means He either has not made Himself known or you have ignored Him when he did make Himself known.

Do you understand what "make Himself known" means? If he was ignored it is because he was not recognized as God, and therefore did not make himself known. In order for God to make himself known, it must be unambiguous. It must be clearly understood that this is God, and not easily explained as something else.

You theists tend to interpret anything you want as God making Himself known. Rainbows, butterflies, cute puppies, etc. Sorry, but our bar for evidence is a bit higher than that. I mean, do Christians think that there were no rainbows or butterflies before Christianity came along? Don't they realize that anyone could claim that same evidence as proof of their god too?

"Rainbows, therefore Odin" is just as logically sound an argument as "Rainbows, therefore God."
"Do you see a problem with insisting that the normal ways in which you determine fact from fiction is something you have to turn off in order to maintain the belief in God?" - JeffPT

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2012, 01:51:45 AM »
ILOVEYOU

Apparently god doesn't heal deafness either, because our warnings against preaching are still falling on your deaf ears.

Just be willing and stop reaching out. Have faith in our ability to listen to rational dialog. Go forth and multiply your consideration of our rules.

It sucks doesn't it. Stop.
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2012, 01:59:03 AM »

Do you understand what "make Himself known" means? If he was ignored it is because he was not recognized as God, and therefore did not make himself known. In order for God to make himself known, it must be unambiguous. It must be clearly understood that this is God, and not easily explained as something else.


What would cut it for you, Joe?

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Offline lomolo

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2012, 02:41:53 AM »
If you have searched for God and not found Him, it means He either has not made Himself known or you have ignored Him when he did make Himself known.

I'm currently talking to a Christian on a different forum (he seems to be getting upset with me, but anyway), and he's also trying to use this argument against me.

If I saw some evidence that God was there, then I would absolutely believe. He keeps asking, "What are you calling evidence?", to which I can only reply, "I don't know, but an omniscient God should".

I can hardly believe that you would think someone would ignore God if he made himself known to them beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2012, 03:00:45 AM »


and he's also trying to use this argument against me.

I'm not trying to use any arguments against anyone. I just give my perspective and challenge others.


I can hardly believe that you would think someone would ignore God if he made himself known to them beyond the shadow of a doubt.

There are many examples in the bible of just that, all the same.
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Offline dloubet

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2012, 03:16:23 AM »
Quote
What would cut it for you, Joe?

This is the very question we're addressing. Is English not your first language?

The only way one could be certain that one is experiencing a god is to be omniscient. Failing that, any reasonable person would have to admit that they could be fooled by sufficiently advanced technology, and thus there is no way to be certain you are experiencing a god or an alien.

This should be a problem for theists, but they apparently think they can't be fooled or mistaken about the identity of supposedly supernatural beings. This is odd when you consider that theists are as likely as anyone else to be swindled by ordinary humans, yet they believe they are immune to the blandishments of a supposed supernatural Father of Lies armed with unknown powers of persuasion. I mean, if I was the Devil character, the first thing I'd do is claim to be the god character and tell the believers exactly what they wanted to hear. I'd feed their expectations and justify their bigotry and hatred. I'd convince them that my opinions match theirs. I'd write the bible in all its vague and cherry-picking glory to facilitate this. I'd laugh all the way to the soul-bank.

Theists believe they're infallible concerning the identity of supernatural beings. They never explain where they got this superpower, but I think they should all take to wearing capes and colorful underwear on the outside of their clothes.
Denis Loubet

Offline joebbowers

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2012, 03:27:29 AM »
I can hardly believe that you would think someone would ignore God if he made himself known to them beyond the shadow of a doubt.
There are many examples in the bible of just that, all the same.

In the real world, if unambiguous evidence of God were found, I doubt anyone would ignore it. You said it happened in the bible, but citing examples from fairy tales is not good enough. We do not believe the bible is true, as there is no evidence to support it, and tons of solid evidence to refute it. Stop citing it as a resource. For the billionth time, the bible is not evidence, so please stop using it as such. Unless I can start claiming Spiderman is real, because it says so in my comic books. Seriously, do you not get that?


Do you understand what "make Himself known" means? If he was ignored it is because he was not recognized as God, and therefore did not make himself known.  In order for God to make himself known, it must be unambiguous. It must be clearly understood that this is God, and not easily explained as something else.


What would cut it for you, Joe?

Already answered. Frankly it would be easy for a supreme being to prove it exists. Hell, I can prove I exist I and don't even have super powers.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2012, 04:03:51 AM »
Do you understand what "make Himself known" means? If he was ignored it is because he was not recognized as God, and therefore did not make himself known. In order for God to make himself known, it must be unambiguous.

What would cut it for you, Joe?

For me, it is exactly what Joe said there.  For me to pray, and then (say) see a rainbow, or have a JW knock at the door, or win the lottery.....none of those would cut it.

So what would cut it for me?  Well, an answer would be favourite.  Like I've said in another thread, something like "hey god, are you there?"  "yes I am"  "Cool - let's talk"  "Okay then".

You know - the exact same way that you would make yourself known if someone was trying to open conversation with you.  If you are a loving god who sincerely wants a relationship with someone, sincerely wants them to know you....then you would be clear and open and direct about it.  You'd answer when someone speaks, not hide behind a cryptic "maybe-message".
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2012, 04:10:55 AM »
Actually, having carefully read the OP again, Hal seems to be saying that if something extremely unexplainable happened he would assume it was something outside his intelligence but not necessarily God. And he appears to be saying that in response to jstweb asking in another thread what evidence he would need.

So I rather think the onus is still on Hal or anyone else to actually answer Jstweb with a specific example of something that would convince him/you of God.

Or is that all just a bit too hard?
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Offline magicmiles

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2012, 04:22:00 AM »

So what would cut it for me?  Well, an answer would be favourite.  Like I've said in another thread, something like "hey god, are you there?"  "yes I am"  "Cool - let's talk"  "Okay then".

You know - the exact same way that you would make yourself known if someone was trying to open conversation with you.  If you are a loving god who sincerely wants a relationship with someone, sincerely wants them to know you....then you would be clear and open and direct about it.  You'd answer when someone speaks, not hide behind a cryptic "maybe-message".

So what you're saying here is that you demand God meet you on your terms, and your terms only?

Think about it. We're talking about God, who spoke the universe into being...who owes you nothing. And you would say to God...you do it myway.

Even in normal, everyday life, is it not better to discover things by searching?
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Offline bertatberts

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2012, 04:25:32 AM »
Jstwebbrowsing, Magicmiles, and I LOVE YOU:

I suggest that the probability of there being life more intelligent than Human beings is probably very good, considering the size of the universe and the possibility of other universes, etc

So what I think Hal is asking is what is it that separates aliens from gods? What separates a god from simply an extremely advanced and influential conscious entity?
Any god, regardless of what religion, would just be a very advanced and influential conscious entity or being.

So what makes the distinction between an advanced alien and a god?

I'll assume that your response would be "gods are supposed to have magical/supernatural abilities"

My response would be, "what is magic?" After all, even if magic does exist, it would be nothing more than a mechanic of reality we don't understand.

But more importantly, how do we distinguish "magic" in the classic sense from just really advanced technology?

And when Hal says super intelligent aliens I'm sure he means that they can, influential the laws of nature, with their advanced technology. 

As I see it a god is nothing more than a really advanced and influential conscious entity, so simply just another alien.
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Offline bertatberts

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2012, 04:26:26 AM »
Actually, having carefully read the OP again, Hal seems to be saying that if something extremely unexplainable happened he would assume it was something outside his intelligence but not necessarily God. And he appears to be saying that in response to jstweb asking in another thread what evidence he would need.

So I rather think the onus is still on Hal or anyone else to actually answer Jstweb with a specific example of something that would convince him/you of God.

Or is that all just a bit too hard?
I'd read it again that is Hal's answer to Jst.
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It would be pretty piss poor brainwashing, if the victims knew they were brainwashed, wouldn't it? - Screwtape. 04/12/12

Offline bertatberts

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2012, 04:28:18 AM »

So what would cut it for me?  Well, an answer would be favourite.  Like I've said in another thread, something like "hey god, are you there?"  "yes I am"  "Cool - let's talk"  "Okay then".

You know - the exact same way that you would make yourself known if someone was trying to open conversation with you.  If you are a loving god who sincerely wants a relationship with someone, sincerely wants them to know you....then you would be clear and open and direct about it.  You'd answer when someone speaks, not hide behind a cryptic "maybe-message".

So what you're saying here is that you demand God meet you on your terms, and your terms only?

Think about it. We're talking about God, who spoke the universe into being...who owes you nothing. And you would say to God...you do it myway.
No he is not talking about your god. He has no concept of god.

 
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It would be pretty piss poor brainwashing, if the victims knew they were brainwashed, wouldn't it? - Screwtape. 04/12/12

Offline kaziglu bey

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2012, 04:30:14 AM »
So I rather think the onus is still on Hal or anyone else to actually answer Jstweb with a specific example of something that would convince him/you of God.

Or is that all just a bit too hard?
I can't speak for anyone, but I think quite a few of us would be convinced if God mooned us, like he did Moses. Furthermore, since we are alleged to have been made in his image, he should appear to each person as an exact double of them in order to demonstrate this. Though this still wouldn't necessarily address the problem of the OP, since it might still be possible for highly advanced aliens to appear to us to be God.

It would also be helpful if someone could show us that a combination of animal blood, anointing with oil, and incantations can cure disease, just as the Bible says it does. It would he helpful if there was evidence of the flood, or the exodus story. These things would demonstrate that the God described in the Bible is true. Since we know that such things are false, it is safe to conclude that the God of the Bible is a myth.
Seriously though... What would happen if the Great Green Arkleseizure didn't fram up the rammastam before the hermite curve achieved maximum nurdfurdle velocity? Now THAT would be something. AmIrite?

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2012, 04:48:11 AM »


No he is not talking about your god. He has no concept of god.

Yes, we are, and yes he does. We're talking about the God of the bible, and because Anfauglir has read the bible, or lots of it, he has a concept of it.

And so, in demanding the God of the bible to do things a certain way he is doing so knowing the God of the bible is unimaginably great, and has no obligation to us at all. You can't demand God only be real if He isn't who He says He is.

Does that make sense?
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2012, 04:49:10 AM »

So what would cut it for me?  Well, an answer would be favourite.  Like I've said in another thread, something like "hey god, are you there?"  "yes I am"  "Cool - let's talk"  "Okay then".

You know - the exact same way that you would make yourself known if someone was trying to open conversation with you.  If you are a loving god who sincerely wants a relationship with someone, sincerely wants them to know you....then you would be clear and open and direct about it.  You'd answer when someone speaks, not hide behind a cryptic "maybe-message".

So what you're saying here is that you demand God meet you on your terms, and your terms only?

Your god can choose to make himself clear to me, or he can choose not to.  It's entirely down to him whether he decides to do that or not, as it is with any person I might try to contact.

However, if everyone who talks about that god is also telling me about how much he loves me, how much he wants to get to know me, how much he deeply wants me to be saved......then I find it very difficult to reconclie those two points of view.  Someone who really wants me to know them....but who won't answer me in a way I can understand when I ask?  THAT is where I have the issue, with the complete disconnect between those two points of view.

Of course, if your god DOESN'T want to know me, DOESN'T really want a relationship with me, then his decision not to answer me in a way I can recognise and understand is quite reasonable.  Just tell me that god doesn't really care about me or want to know me or want me to be saved or want me to find him, and I'll be quite content.  It'll save me a lot of time as well, as I can stop asking.

I'm also intrigued as to why you are claiming I "demand" anything.  I'm asking god if he wants to talk to me.  If he doesn't, I'm not going to throw a paddy - I'll just say "fine", and walk away.  He doesn't want to reply, that's entirely his perogative.  But I WILL get annoyed with the next True Believer who says "why don't you just ask god, he really wants to know you!"

Think about it. We're talking about God, who spoke the universe into being...who owes you nothing. And you would say to God...you do it myway.

Yes.  For one thing, this god apparently brought the world into being for me to have dominion over, and for me to enjoy.  I'm not an afterthought for creation, I'm the reason for creation....which sounds big-headed, but I think you know what I mean!  Which all means that I'm fairly high on his list.

And also, of course, as a being of limitless power and resource, its not like I am taking him away from something by asking him to respond to me.  He's everywhere, at all times (or so I understand).

Final point, which relates to the above: compared to this god, I have very little understanding or ability or resources, very little options when it comes to communicating.  I believe it is therefore incumbent on the person with the greatest resource and ability to conform to the needs of the lesser.  If someone is paralysed, and can communicate only by blinking.....and does that as best they can.....would it be reasonable for the healthy person to say "well, if they can't be bothered to talk to me at my house, why should I stoop down to their level?"

Even in normal, everyday life, is it not better to discover things by searching?

Depends on what the thing is.  Remember that your god is only one of tens of thousands there might be.  Even if I tried to contact one god a day, it would take me most of a lifetime to get round to them all.  Why on earth would I spend a vastly disproportionate amount of time trying to make contact with one particular god, especially when every attempt I make meets with failure? 

Please understand, I have no more reason to believe in your god than any other one, so all I am after at the moment is the "making contact" part so that I have some reason to think that a more in-depth search would have some merit.  But when every overture I make is met with silence, what possible reason would I have to try again (and again, and again), rather than move on to the next possible god on my list?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2012, 04:51:58 AM »

I can't speak for anyone, but I think quite a few of us would be convinced if God mooned us, like he did Moses. Furthermore, since we are alleged to have been made in his image, he should appear to each person as an exact double of them in order to demonstrate this. Though this still wouldn't necessarily address the problem of the OP, since it might still be possible for highly advanced aliens to appear to us to be God.

It would also be helpful if someone could show us that a combination of animal blood, anointing with oil, and incantations can cure disease, just as the Bible says it does. It would he helpful if there was evidence of the flood, or the exodus story. These things would demonstrate that the God described in the Bible is true. Since we know that such things are false, it is safe to conclude that the God of the Bible is a myth.

Seems like a few hedged bets there KB..."it would be helpful"

Is helpful going to be good enough? or do you need the same as Anfauglir, God to come and knock physically on your door. You sure you wouldn't find a way to explain that away as well?
The 2010 world cup was ruined for me by that slippery bastard Paul.

Offline Nozzferrahhtoo

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Re: Evidence for a deity - How do I tell?
« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2012, 05:06:26 AM »
You asked me once what evidence I would require to believe in your god, and I asked you to help me out. I asked you how I could differentiate between a god and a highly advanced alien. I truthfully don't know how I could do that, so I need your assistance.

I do not think there is an answer to this as how to interpret the evidence should be built into the evidence itself. As such a general rule on how to approach evidence is likely not going to exist, or be helpful. That was madness lies and you will find people touting a Matt Slick style of "presuppositional apologetics" at you before you know it.

I also tend to refuse to answer a theist when they ask me what kind of evidence I would accept from them. First it is not up to me to dictate to them what evidence I will take. It is their claim, so they need to inform me of the evidence. Second if I do decide what evidence I will accept then I risk missing the actual evidence when it arrives because it does not fit with my expectations. So instead I choose to remain entirely open to all the evidence anyone wishes to approach me with.

To me "evidence" is a process, not a thing in and of itself and that process has three steps:

1) State clearly what your claim is.
2) State clearly what you think supports that claim.
3) Explain clearly how what you listed in 2 supports what you claimed in 1.

Part 3 there is the answer to your question / thread. If/when the person explains exactly how his evidence supports his claim then inherent in that is answers on how the speaker feels you should be interpreting / considering the data presented by him/her. This can of course differ wildly depending on 1 and 2 and as such a general rule for how to interpret 1 and 2 is not really possible.

The issue however I have noticed in my conversations with theists is that they do not engage in the three step process above but rather a two step process as follows:

1) Make a rather vague claim.
2) List some stuff and leave.

In essence they are saying nothing at all but using a lot of words to say it. My favorite example of this being one I hear more often than you would guess.  It is usually some variation on: "There is evidence that there is a god everywhere, just look in the mirror as YOU are evidence of god". A statement that says literally nothing but never fails to make the speaker look smug as if he has just slapped you with the best QED ever.