Author Topic: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?  (Read 40161 times)

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Offline median

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What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« on: April 25, 2013, 02:40:24 PM »
Many Christians accuse atheists of being closed to the idea of God. Likewise, many of us atheists argue that theists are doxastically closed to revising their beliefs. I think an effective way of spurring change is to demonstrate that which we would like to see from the other side. So what would it take in order for you to change your view? Please answer as honestly as you can.

FOR THEISTS:

What would it take for you to give up believing in Jesus and/or God? Please be as specific as you can.

FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?


It is true that some atheists are also doxastically closed, and this thread is designed (at least in part) to show just how closed each person (theist or atheist) may or may not be. So, are you open? Are you closed? Or are you somewhere in between? Let's discuss it and find out.


NOTE:  For reasons that should be obvious I am very curious to know what you theists have to contribute here. So please chime in ASAP.

« Last Edit: April 25, 2013, 02:49:57 PM by median »
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Offline One Above All

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2013, 02:41:45 PM »
BM
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
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Offline pianodwarf

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2013, 02:44:13 PM »
What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

My thoughts on this are more or less the same as Greta Christina's.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2010/07/19/what-would-convince-this-atheist-to-believe/
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Offline Petey

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2013, 02:45:16 PM »
FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

The short, short version: evidence.
He never pays attention, he always knows the answer, and he can never tell you how he knows. We can't keep thrashing him. He is a bad example to the other pupils. There's no educating a smart boy.
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Offline Dante

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2013, 02:46:12 PM »

FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

Corroborating scientific evidence. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now, possibly, a personal experience of my own could get me to thinking that there could be something I've missed all these years, but I probably wouldn't use it as concrete evidence.
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline Nick

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2013, 02:53:27 PM »
Cure an amputee.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2013, 03:22:41 PM »
Bearing in mind that I'm a skeptic rather than an atheist...

I would expect to see evidence that the deity was actually involved in the world.  Unambiguous visitations and clearly-answered prayers, for example.  Furthermore, that the deity would back up things that he claimed or that others claimed on his behalf, and more importantly, disavow things that were falsely claimed on his behalf.

Offline rev45

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2013, 04:57:33 PM »
A god could come up with an infinite number of ways to make me believe, ways that I couldn't even think of.  If it wanted to, it could make me change my mind about it just by looking at a snowflake or the leaves falling off a tree.  A child's laughter or my dog snoring loudly.  If it so wanted.

Other than that I have two ways that would convince me, one that would be a personal experience or one that would be a public display of it's power. 

First, for my job I'm a rural mail carrier.  I spend a lot of my time driving out in the middle of corn fields going from house to house.  So I would want this god on a clear sunny day, to send a huge tornado made of Skittles candy careening across my path.  After the tornado has gone away I want it to audibly say which god it is.  That will keep me from still having to guess which god caused my Skittles tornado.  And yes it must, must be Skittles, no other candy allowed.  If it can't make the tornado out of Skittles then I will question it's all powerfulness.  And I've had people automatically tell me that this would never happen.  Apparently I'm the only one with enough faith to think that it can.

Or number two.  I would like to see another Elijah like battle of the gods.  A contest like Elijah had with the followers of Baal.  Only this time we gather leaders of every religion and every denomination.  The pairings will be drawn at random.  We allow each leader to call on their god to strike down the leader of the opposing god.  This would continue until one person is left standing.  Although I would seriously need to reassess my atheist position if we make it past round one.
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Offline shnozzola

Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2013, 05:16:10 PM »
   My wife has worked with people that live beside a cemetery.  They say yeah, no doubt, there are ghosts that carry on there.  I said, have them invite us for a late supper.  That would be a start into proving some kind of realm.  I'd welcome  that.  Alas, never got invited.  Maybe my wife and I should just go there and camp for a week - police, jail, lost jobs, and I pretty much guarantee we  would never see or hear anything suspicious in the center of a cemetery.    Too bad, but that's reality - no gods, no dragons, nothing.  I guess we could value and take care of the real oak trees, newly developed american chestnut trees, turtles, elephants, eagles, etc.  more.  :)
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2013, 05:45:11 PM »
My atheist view. It would require something that removes both "belief" and "faith" from the equation. Only fake religions should need those components.

I would want to know, unequivocally. If there is a god, like rev45 said, he knows how to do that.

By the way, knowing that he exists and worshipping him are two different things. Just knowing he exists does not guarantee I will become a follower. He's gonna have to earn my respect. He can't demand it. if he exists, he didn't give me the genetic ability to operate any other way.
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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2013, 05:47:52 PM »
I'm quite open to the possibility of god-like beings existing, but take a strong agnostic POV when dealing with the problem of accurately identifying such a god.  Think of it this way:

  • How much more advanced than us does a non-supernatural entity have to be before we see it as a god?
  • Even if it thinks itself to be the most powerful being in existence, there might be yet another one beyond its knowledge.
  • Finite mortal beings simply aren't equipped to examine a god's credentials, checking to see the limits of its power or even to determine if it really is immortal.

As for gods, an afterlife or a spirit realm, I think I'd have to experience them in person before I felt anything resembling belief.  My mind has a really hard time getting hypothetical entities to "stick" unless they're backed up by a considerable amount of Real.

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Offline wright

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2013, 06:35:38 PM »
Good question, median.

I like Ms. Christina's standards, as kindly referenced by pianodwarf: an unambiguous message (directed not just at me but everyone worldwide simultaneously), very specific prophecies of contemporary events in holy texts, and at least one or two religious faiths whose believers are far better off (health, prosperity, overall well-being) than anyone else. A highly-advanced technology might be capable of pulling that off, but those kinds of things would be a start towards convincing me.

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Offline magicmiles

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2013, 07:04:44 PM »


Just substitute the word 'money' for 'body'. (If you could substitute Tom Cruise for Sean Penn that would also be good)

Christianity lives and dies on the claimed resurrection. If there was some way of confirming that Jesus stayed in the tomb then fry me a baby and call me a heathen.
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2013, 07:06:07 PM »
Quote
FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

Nothing could make me believe in a God, an afterlife or an immaterial spiritual realm. No amount of evidence could possibly make me believe that there are such things. As I posted on the "What is your religious position" thread:

Not only am I a 7 on the Dawkins scale, but I don't see why any atheist would not be such (if not a 7, at least a 6.999... recurring). If you know there are no leprechauns, fairies or rock people (and that if we found evidence of something like them, we still wouldn't associate real-life facts with creatures of myth any more than we associate a picture of Jesus on toast with a real Jesus), and you understand gods as being mythical creatures, then you should also know there are no gods.

Even if we did find out that the universe has a creator, it would be an entity on its own right, with its own properties, not a mythical creature with human-invented properties.

To use an example to illustrate what I mean, we found out that sticking needles in people can have beneficial effects. But this does not prove or even count as evidence that acupuncture as a belief system, with its own pseudo-scientific premises, structure, etc is correct. It only proves that sticking needles in people can have beneficial effects. That is the only factual conclusion. Acupuncture was made up far before these experiments and, even if you assume that the phenomenon in question was the origin of acupuncture in some way, has no relation to that data.

Likewise, if a being came down to us and could rearrange the stars to spell its name, and we confirmed that this was no illusion of any sort (except of course projecting 3D space into a 2D image), I wouldn't assume that an imaginary entity "YHWH" has somehow sprung into existence, leaping from our minds to reality, and taking the exact form that we have imagined. That's not how reality works. Imagination is contained within our minds, it does not affect reality directly, only indirectly through our actions.


Quote
It is true that some atheists are also doxastically closed, and this thread is designed (at least in part) to show just how closed each person (theist or atheist) may or may not be.

It may be relevant that I was not raised religious, and so to me religious beliefs never had any credibility.

Offline Hierophant

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2013, 07:12:53 PM »
Or number two.  I would like to see another Elijah like battle of the gods.  A contest like Elijah had with the followers of Baal.  Only this time we gather leaders of every religion and every denomination.  The pairings will be drawn at random.  We allow each leader to call on their god to strike down the leader of the opposing god.  This would continue until one person is left standing.  Although I would seriously need to reassess my atheist position if we make it past round one.

A good idea in theory, but the Subgenius would just end up gunning down all the god-botherers. Against gods, we don't play fair. We even shot our own messiah, so... :D
« Last Edit: April 25, 2013, 07:14:54 PM by Hierophant »

Offline shnozzola

Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2013, 07:40:10 PM »
http://www.youtube.com/

Just substitute the word 'money' for 'body'. (If you could substitute Tom Cruise for Sean Penn that would also be good)

Christianity lives and dies on the claimed resurrection. If there was some way of confirming that Jesus stayed in the tomb then fry me a baby and call me a heathen.

MM, I suppose we all may feel that this reversal would never happen.   If god showed up, I believe my actions before and after would be the same.  I assume if god were shown to not exist, you would do the same?

edit - I ask because I believe some people think the reason an atheist is an atheist is to become a 24/7  orgy, drug crazed  sinning machine
« Last Edit: April 25, 2013, 07:45:17 PM by shnozzola »
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Offline magicmiles

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2013, 07:59:01 PM »
http://www.youtube.com/

Just substitute the word 'money' for 'body'. (If you could substitute Tom Cruise for Sean Penn that would also be good)

Christianity lives and dies on the claimed resurrection. If there was some way of confirming that Jesus stayed in the tomb then fry me a baby and call me a heathen.

MM, I suppose we all may feel that this reversal would never happen.   If god showed up, I believe my actions before and after would be the same.  I assume if god were shown to not exist, you would do the same?

edit - I ask because I believe some people think the reason an atheist is an atheist is to become a 24/7  orgy, drug crazed  sinning machine

Mate, I'm as much of a 24/7 sinning machine as any atheist, that I can probably guarantee. Not that I'm proud of it, and not that I use my faith as some sort of get out jail free card.

You're probably right in that there wouldn't be a huge change in how I live, but I can't say for sure. Obviously I would have some extra spare time on a Sunday.
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Offline Add Homonym

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2013, 08:34:11 PM »
The question is more difficult to answer than appears, because most atheists take the position that religious adherents are supposed to prove that their particular God exists, and that God is required to do so, when you ask him. The dogmatic way the religions are structured creates this attitude.

Christianity pretends to be a religion of proof and logic, where God will demonstrate himself by miracles, if you ask. We have many Christians coming here, who assert that God will answer, if you pray hard enough. They also rationalize their belief by the prophecies in Isaiah and Daniel, as if it's a 1-2-3 formula. Being logical, atheists then expect-back, that the Bible should be accurate, non-forged and non-contradictory.

Why should God show himself? Does God show himself to a hamster or beetle? That's ridiculous, a hamster is just required to be a hamster, with no intervention from God. The question is : are humans just required to be humans?

Being an odd species, we have no idea what being a human is really supposed to be. Does a human watch TV all day, while eating pizza? The bulk of religion focusses on proscriptive imaginings of what you are supposed to do, to please a God, who is obviously not going to reveal himself, or tell us what to do.

Intermingled with this, is the imaginary quest, that says a human is more equipped to "find" God than a hamster, and as well as being human, we also have the added pressure to "find" God, and tell others that we have found him, even though, from an evolutionary point of view, we may not have developed the faculties to do it. We have no qualms saying that a hamster is obviously not equipped to find God, but then ascribe this potential to all humans.

Thus, the question of the OP could be similar to asking a bronze age shepherd: what would it take to change your mind about Quantum Loop Gravity?

The shepherd could simply accept your word for it, or he could become a hermit, and go on a life-long quest, to explore quantum physics. This would be known as the hard path.

In summary, it's only likely that I would change my mind about God, if he direct injected some understanding into my mind, and made me believe in him. This seems to be the way that most religious fanatics work, anyway.
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2013, 08:59:58 PM »
I would need a miracle like a regenerated limb on a human, only after prayer to said entity. Then another prayer to make the limb go back to how it was. Then another prayer to bring it back. If not a regenerated limb I would need some other occurrence that we have no natural explanation and I would need it to be repeated.

to quote the prophet Andre "3000" Benjamin, "An impossible feat then I repeat, an impossible feat then I repeat, an impossible feat then I repeat"

Offline Samothec

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2013, 12:55:47 AM »
The simultaneous restoration of every severed limb for every human and the simultaneous elimination of all cancer in every human and the simultaneous elimination of all disease in every human. Then the simultaneous transformation of every copy of all the different holy books into the one true holy book which can not be mistranslated.

It's asking a bit much but the creator of the unvierse could do it while advanced aliens (or some other powerful being) would find the task extremely difficult if they could even manage it.
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Offline Seppuku

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2013, 04:19:36 AM »
Quote from: magicmiles
Obviously I would have some extra spare time on a Sunday.

Always a bonus, I mean there aren't enough days in a weekend. ;)


Quote
FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

For me it boils down to evidence. If God were to appear and say, "hey, Sepp, sup?" then of course, it may suffice, though of course it would really depend, if it could be a man claiming to be God, then obviously it's not enough, but if he rides in on a chariot of lightning with a choir of angels at his side, well I might just shit myself. If other people were there to verify the experience it would also help (because it would mean I couldn't doubt the experience, individual memory can be unreliable and well, one can hallucinate). Unfortunately the existence of God is something very difficult to prove without God of course giving us that evidence. Often or not so called evidence is either psuedo-science or logic games, which isn't enough either. For anything to be considered scientific fact it is rigorously tested. If God were to reveal himself in the flesh, I think a lot of that rigorous testing would become unecessary, we might take pictures and maybe ask questions, but it's only natural for the scientifically minded to be curious. I doubt we'd go as far as dissecting him and finding out what makes him tick.

As for the afterlife and/or an immaterial spiritual realm, I would need evidence.  Even if I were to experience it, I could find other explanations, like, again, hallucinations, in a near-death experience your brain isn't getting a lot of oxygen and it wouldn't be a stretch to suggest your experience could be a hallucination, perhaps memories or perhaps your own dreams and expectations. If I were to experience it, I wouldn't rule out those possibilities, I would need evidence I could test and it would need to be more than the test in Flatliners because it wouldn't prove anything.

Unfortunately my requirements make it very difficult for me to change my view. I am not close minded, I just want to be able to verify extraordinary claims before I accept them.
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Offline Dante

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2013, 06:54:09 AM »
then fry me a baby an

They're much better slow cooked on a smoker. Jus sayin.
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2013, 07:02:17 AM »
The very simple anwer that's been given before.

Evidence.  Clear, unambiguous, testable, evidence.  Simple as that.  Same criteria I use for any woo-woo claim like Bigfoot and Nessie and Ghosts and Psychokinesis and.....whatever else ya got.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2013, 10:37:56 AM »
Nothing could make me believe in a God, an afterlife or an immaterial spiritual realm. No amount of evidence could possibly make me believe that there are such things. As I posted on the "What is your religious position" thread:

Not only am I a 7 on the Dawkins scale, but I don't see why any atheist would not be such (if not a 7, at least a 6.999... recurring). If you know there are no leprechauns, fairies or rock people (and that if we found evidence of something like them, we still wouldn't associate real-life facts with creatures of myth any more than we associate a picture of Jesus on toast with a real Jesus), and you understand gods as being mythical creatures, then you should also know there are no gods.
First of all, mathematically speaking, 7 = 6.9999... recurring.  But I get what you're saying.
Quote
Even if we did find out that the universe has a creator, it would be an entity on its own right, with its own properties, not a mythical creature with human-invented properties.
I think this illustrates the difficulty with dealing with the imprecision of a word like 'god'.  Because I can see some interpretations of the above as a concession that you could be convinced that a 'god' entity exists and you simply reject the associated semantic baggage behind the word 'god'.  Liberal deists, for example, would say that the above entity you described is 'god' regardless of what you label it.

What you're saying is that all known, coherent definitions of 'god' are of entities that can be shown to be mythological and imaginary.  I think that's what you're saying at least.
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Offline Aaron123

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #25 on: April 26, 2013, 11:07:30 AM »
FOR THEISTS:

What would it take for you to give up believing in Jesus and/or God? Please be as specific as you can.

Is it ok for an ex-theist to comment on this?

For me, it was lack of evidence that made me give up the faith.  The logic disconnets were much too great.  People talk of prayers as a spiritual event, but to me, it felt like talking to the air.  The bible talks of the great and impressive things that god did, yet... god does nothing today.



Quote
FOR ATHEISTS:

What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?

I'll do what everyone else has done, and invoke the magic "E" word: evidence.
Being a Christian, I've made my decision. That decision offers no compromise; therefore, I'm closed to anything else.

Offline Hierophant

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #26 on: April 26, 2013, 01:18:52 PM »
Quote
First of all, mathematically speaking, 7 = 6.9999... recurring.
It was a joke. Sorry... I should have added a smiley.  :D

Quote
I think this illustrates the difficulty with dealing with the imprecision of a word like 'god'.  Because I can see some interpretations of the above as a concession that you could be convinced that a 'god' entity exists
Not any more than experiments involving putting needles in people could convince me that the belief system of "acupuncture" is valid. No matter what it is we find, it's not "God." It should be given its own name., or at worse be called a "god-like entity."

Quote
What you're saying is that all known, coherent definitions of 'god' are of entities that can be shown to be mythological and imaginary.  I think that's what you're saying at least.
Yes, all gods are imaginary. They all start in the imaginary, as a solution to some philosophical or existential conundrum, and then take a "life" of their own (so to speak). Imaginary entities do not exist outside of our minds, and they are all different for each person because of the lack of observable referents (literary referents are inadequate because language can be interpreted in ways that direct observation cannot).

To say that an imaginary entity could exist is a category error. Perhaps the reason why a lot of atheists say this is because they disagree that gods are imaginary, I don't know. Yet to me that seems obviously the case.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2013, 01:48:25 PM by Hierophant »

Offline Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #27 on: April 26, 2013, 01:35:26 PM »
It would depend on the definition of the god in question.  If it's one of the ones that's already been conclusively disproven[1], then the question of what would convince me to believe in it becomes an awkward one, because the evidence is already in.  That evidence would have had to have been different in order for me to have been convinced, but this is all past-tense.

That said, there are effective brainwashing techniques using sleep deprivation and drugs that would, in time, make me believe anything at all.
 1. eg. the ones living on Mount Olympus, or one that created the Earth in 6 days
The highest moral human authority is copied by our Gandhi neurons through observation.

Offline Graybeard

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2013, 02:24:53 PM »
As a grade 7 atheist, even the appearance of a god would not convince me. Quite simply gods cannot exist. My argument is that if a god appeared and gave me (or us) the scientific explanation of how he did apparently miraculous things, then he would no longer be a god. I liken this to seeing a bird fly when I cannot fly -> once I know how it is done, it is not that remarkable.

This stems from Clark's third law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
« Last Edit: April 26, 2013, 02:26:48 PM by Graybeard »
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”