Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Question of the Day #58: Can you prove God's existence?

I already essentially asked this question on my own blog, but my blog apparently sucks, as not nearly so many people visit there as here. So I ask the question again here:

I have had people ask me, "If God really exists, and wants people to believe in Him, then why doesn't He just prove His existence to us?" I think this question is an unreasonable one. I think that no matter what God hypothetically might do to encourage belief (without taking away free will) a person may always choose to deny evidence.

My question: How could a hypothetically existent God prove its existence?

On a related note, do you think the original question or my counter-question are useful in any way with respect to the dialogue between theists and atheists?

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At 8/11/2006 11:11 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"My question: How could a hypothetically existent God prove its existence?"

As an ignostic (i.e. someone who holds that the term "God" is meaningless because non-falsifiable), I would answer that your question is meaningless. But furthermore I would also answer that it is quite impossible for us to know that any given event is non-natural, making the question 100% moot even if one is not an ignostic.

"On a related note, do you think the original question or my counter-question are useful in any way with respect to the dialogue between theists and atheists?"

No, because any atheist can just say "God knows what it would take for me to believe." It is a non-issue.

Furthermore, your reasoning implies that we have the will to decide to accept the "evidence" or not, which is spurious. If you believe that God can exist to begin with, then there's no grounds to know anything, and God could be controlling your will at this very moment, making any question dependent on our will irrelevant. Christianity is a sterile worldview, which leads only to nihilism.

At 8/12/2006 2:43 AM, Blogger bookjunky declaimed...

I tend to agree with Francois that it would be virtually impossible to ascertain that something is a non-natural event.

Parting the Pacific Ocean all the way across, right down to the ocean bed, kind of like in The Ten Commandments, and keeping it that way for, say a week, would be a possiblity. I think that is highly unlikely to be a natural event and probably outside man's current technical ability.

Reversing the earth's rotation without causing harm to the life on the planet would be another. According to my understanding, this would be physically impossible to occur naturally (see I think this would be a pretty strong candidate for supernatural intervention.

Would I then believe in a Christian version of God? Hell, no.

At 8/12/2006 9:24 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

I'll chime in with agreement. A god as defined by Christianity is outside of our experience, and thus completely incoherent.

But the earlier mythological representations of the deity in early Hebrew stories present a characterization more in line with other contemporary deities, i.e., nothing more than souped-up humans. A deity that can "walk" through the Garden of Eden is surely one that can be observed naturally.

I think if, today, the Christian god were to manifest itself naturally (as it has in the past) and demonstrate its power, although I may not be able to fully conclude that it is omnimax, it would certainly be more powerful than me, and so I would be forced to at least give it my consideration. (I still doubt that I could worship a being so immoral)

At 8/12/2006 4:44 PM, Blogger bookjunky declaimed...

Another possible demonstration of god's power: Every atheist on the planet would magically have a glowing display appear over their heads. The display could be a message "I am the Lord," or "Eastern Orthodox Reformed Church (second synod)" was right about ME," or some such. And it would stay there throughout life. So it could be seen by everyone and verified scientifically. It would be clear and unequivocal.

A fourth possible: All the stars in the sky would shift their positions to spell out a similar message (in all earthly languages) around the equator. Everyone would then see it and know for sure. The change would be visible from space as well as earth. Scientists could examine it and verify that the stars had actually moved.

I mean, if God created the universe and all, this should be a piece of cake.

Seeing God walking on earth...I dunno...could be a hallucination. I mean Oral Roberts or one of those guys saw a 900 foot tall Jesus who told him to build a medical center. The guy next to him...he didn't see nothin'

At 8/13/2006 5:05 PM, Blogger Zendo Deb declaimed...

"How could a hypothetically existent God prove its existence?"

The way it was done in Carl Sagon's "Contact" - the book not the movie. The ending of the book and the ending of the movie are drastically different, almost all references to religion having been expunged from the movie - except for the negative references of course.

Obviously non-random information would have to be hidden in various computations. The digits of pi, when expanded to some large number of digits would be seen to contain certain messages, and so on for other non-rational real number representations.

At 8/14/2006 4:23 PM, Blogger Brucker declaimed...

You know, it's funny, but after I posted this, I realized that I really think the second question is the more important one.

Francois' response in particular seems to illustrate that for me. (Well, maybe because he's the only one who really answered the second question, unless I missed it elsewhere.) If an omnipotent God exists, then the shortcut answer is for God to override our wills and make us believe, even though I ruled that out in the question, just because He supposedly could.

At 8/15/2006 5:27 PM, Blogger Brucker declaimed...

For further thoughts, see trackback links below.

At 8/15/2006 11:05 PM, Blogger groundfighter76 declaimed...


Zach said, "A god as defined by Christianity is outside of our experience, and thus completely incoherent."

Maybe you could expound on this.

At 8/16/2006 12:51 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

I think that if a giant Mecha-Jesus descended from the sky and destroyed Tokyo, I would be convinced of the existence of the Christian God.



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