Your position is very understandable.
I'm glad you think so. There are more than a few believers out there who think that atheism is irrational.
I am happy to see that your position remains open to the idea that evidence may arise.
But of course.
I've spent many, many years (and more than a little money) training my mind to become a scientific skeptic. Among the important elements of being a skeptic is being able to admit when you're wrong about something, an action that, unfortunately, evolution has selected against in our species.
I'm going to begin by stating that I do not think that I will ever be able to give conclusive evidence that God exists nor will God ever show himself in a manor by which every single person will agree that he is real.
I'd say you're right. Yahweh
, if he exists, is more than capable of doing that himself.
I will give this short example: if you were a ruler, would you rather your subjects want to be apart of your kingdom or would you rather force your subjects to follow you by force? Without faith God would be forcing people to follow him instead of letting them choose to follow him.
I've heard this line of reasoning before, of course, and my opinion is that it's a very weak argument. Greta Christina uses an excellent analogy.
Imagine you’re on a jury. You’re asked to decide whether something is or is not real, whether it did or did not happen: whether the accused stole the diamonds, or set fire to their warehouse for the insurance, or shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. The prosecution doesn’t offer much evidence at the trial — it’s all circumstantial at best, third-hand hearsay at worst, with excessive appeals to emotion and fear, and arguments based on faulty logic. So you decide to acquit.
And then, after you’ve reached your verdict, you’re told there’s a videotape, clearly showing the accused committing the crime.
You’re baffled. You’re outraged. You confront the prosecutor in the hallway, and ask, “Why didn’t you show us this evidence at the trial? Why show it to us now — when it’s too late to do anything about it?”
And the prosecutor replies, “Because you had to be free to decide for yourself. If we gave you that videotape, it would have made your choice too obvious. Free will is a precious gift, a crucial component of the justice system — and in order for the jury to have free will, we can’t make the right verdict too obvious. That would have forced your hand.”
Would you nod your head sagely in agreement? Would you think that was a sound and reasonable explanation?
Or would you think they were out of their gourd?
This is the same thing that so many Christians say that Yahweh is doing. If he is, then he's unclear on something: our freedom of choice -- or, to be more specific, our ability to make wise and proper choices -- is not hampered by having more information. Quite the contrary, having more information makes it more
likely that we'll make wise decisions.
My evidence is very subjective.
I'm sorry for having to snip such a huge portion of your post, since it obviously took a lot of time to write (and I did read the whole thing, believe me). But to be honest about it, this one sentence is pretty much the crux of everything you said.
Evidence, almost by definition, really, is not
subjective. If it's subjective, it isn't really evidence. If we were trying to decide on Yahweh's existence in a courtroom trial, for example, any of the stories you relate here would not be considered evidence, and you probably wouldn't even be allowed to enter it into your testimony.
I don't doubt for a moment that you have had some fantastic experiences. So have I. On one occasion, I had a very clear and powerful vision -- extremely realistic -- of angels visiting me and showering me with love, and I hadn't even been taking any kind of drug. I'd really like to believe it was real, believe me, because it was a beautiful experience. However, I know enough about the human mind to know that it was almost certainly some form of hallucination.
Christianity is part knowledge and part emotion. It will give you truth and knowledge, but you have to be open to it by faith.
Other religions say exactly the same thing. Why is Christianity right and the others wrong? Or do you not think that that's the case?