Empirical Evidence of God

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Bowser, Jul 5, 2018.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    In response to the opening post, here's something I wrote in a different thread (link).

    I can only speak personally about this, because every atheist is different.

    The first thing I'd say is that any acceptance of God on my part would be predicated on the same kind of reasoning as any other belief I accept. I am a trained scientist and critical thinker, so I realise that even the facts that seem most solid and immovable are, when it comes down to it, provisional. One must always be open to changing one's mind in the light of new evidence. In short, doubt is a healthy attitude to have about everything.

    I believe that trees exist. I believe that because I see them, I can touch them, other people around me speak and write about them and agree with me that they perceive them in a similar way that I do, and so on and so forth. It is possible that trees do not actually exist. I could be a brain in a vat, so that every tree I have ever perceived is just a computer simulation fed directly into my brain. But, based on the evidence available to me, I accept provisionally that trees are real, understanding that it is possible (though in this case I think it extremely unlikely) that I will have to change my opinion in the future.

    So, God. As I understand the concept, God is supposed to care personally about human beings, at least to the extent of interacting with them in various ways. God is supposed to know everything, and God can do anything. There is, of course, the deist conceptions of God as a Creator who basically creates a clockwork universe then does nothing after that. It makes no practical difference whether I accept the existence of that kind of God or not, so I don't really want to discuss evidences for that kind of God here, now. So let's think about this personal, interventionist God that the major religions talk about.

    That kind of God could easily talk to me if he wanted to. he could appear in front of me in any convenient form and start up a conversation. Or he could speak directly into my mind. If such a God were to appear and to speak to me, I would be inclined to believe in him. Of course, it would be good to check that I wasn't hallucinating. Preferably, this God should also communicate to other people as well, so we can compare notes about what he had to say. If he appeared to a crowd of people instead of just to me individually, and we all agreed that his appearance was miraculous, then I'd be more likely to believe. I'd also be more likely to believe if God told me things that I couldn't (easily) know through other means. That is, God would need to say more than "I love you. I've got your back" and such platitudes. He could easily convey private or previously-unknown information that could not be obtained (easily, or at all) by other means.

    I would also probably accept God if he were to appear and do an impressive miracle of some kind. For example, if he were to lift a mountain into the air and suspend it there, whole, in front of myself and other witnesses then I'd have little choice but to accept that, at the least, a being with incomprehensible power was present and active in the world. Similarly if he brought the long-dead back to life. Really, any reasonable miracle would go a long way to convincing me.

    As a wise man once said, any sufficiently-advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, so it is true that mountain-lifting or resurrection might be achieved by super-advanced aliens and it might not actually require supernatural omnipotence. But such aliens would be hard to distinguish from gods, anyway, so it couldn't hurt to accept, at least, that god-like powers were on display.

    God could break the laws of physics if he wanted to. It wouldn't be hard for him to arrange some convenient demonstration for my benefit, I'm sure. That would be quite convincing evidence of his existence, as far as I'm concerned. (With the proviso about advanced alien technologies and yet-to-be-discovered physics, of course.)

    Speaking personally, there is sufficient evidence to suggest to me that trees exist. I therefore believe in trees, wholeheartedly. I could be wrong. Maybe there are no trees after all, but the evidence I am aware of sure looks convincing to me.

    Similarly, I can imagine all kinds of evidences that would be sufficient to convince me that God exists. Again, I could conceivably mistake certain evidences as evidence for God, when in fact they were evidence of advanced aliens, or whatever. But I can still imagine circumstances in which I would happily concede that I believe in God, because the evidence sure looks convincing to me.

    Theists like Jan Ardena, of course, believe in God in the absence of any of the kinds of evidence I used as examples above. The kinds of things that present-day theists claim as evidence of God inevitably turn out, upon examination, to be equivocal and/or unconfirmed and/or purely subjective. So much so, in fact, that people like Jan are forced to concede that there is no good evidence for God at all.

    This is why theists say that you just have to open yourself up to God, accept God regardless of evidence. Because the evidence doesn't stack up. Something needs to stand in place of evidence to justify the belief. That something is "faith".
     
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Is there a universal conception of what the "God" word is supposed to signify that all population groups could agree upon?

    For instance, if God defined as prior in rank to all concrete and abstract items (perhaps with the exception of itself with regard to latter) -- and such an "all" includes causation, space / time (location or "residing in a place"), appearances or manifestations (observational evidence), inference (evidence via reasoning), substance / "stuff", etc...

    IOW, if this supposed ultimate provenance or principle denoted by the God word is what makes any type of world possible...

    Then empirical evidence would seem as worthless as anything else for something that would also be hierarchically prior to even the idea of validation itself. It instead boils down to what role or function God is serving. Whether or not either an institution or a culture really needs another level of hierarchy that is elevated above the the interdependent components of the spatial cosmos and its temporal continuum. Or why is God necessary or entailed in a practical sense (i.e., "we need this regardless of whether the case or not"), rather than the typical metaphysical context which can only output similarly inadequate intellectual proofs or support?

    ~
     
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  5. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    You make it too easy.
    If you have no criteria you can be shown anything.

    If you recall, the whining resulting from Bowser showing a pile of bricks is what got this thread rolling.

    If you are not satisfied with a pile of bricks, you have to start being more specific.
     
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  7. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    That's what I asked for - anything. All you've shown is nothing.

    If there's an elephant in the room, show us something: a trunk, a tusk, a leg, an ear. If we scoff and say it's just a snake or a spear or a tree or a fan, at least you've made an effort. As it is, when you present nothing it looks like you've got nothing.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that. Many of us here have spent a lifetime looking and found no evidence of any god-spook. If you can't find any either, there's no shame in that.
     
  8. sweetpea Valued Senior Member

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    1,049
    God is an atheist?
    ''So the general principe here'' is that babies in the womb can choose their lifestyle?
    www.nhs.uk/conditions/neuroblastoma/
    Babies born blind with no chance of ever seeing is down to their lifestyle choice?
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  9. sweetpea Valued Senior Member

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    1,049
    No doubt your smelling brimstone right now? Don't fall off the pulpit.

    Yes, God needs lerts.
     
  10. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think it is just a coincidence that the bible tells us of a god who did speak directly to humans, and did perform such miracles.

    The authors of those stories probably knew those would be the types of claims which would be persuasive to more people in their intended audience. The authors probably consciously (or subconsciously) included those details to ensure that their god was something/someone to be taken seriously, to respect, and possibly to fear.

    And of course there is much ado about the importance of 'faith' thrown in the bible for good measure. The authors were probably (consciously or subconsciously) hedging their bets, just in case their intended audience ever questioned why this supposed god never spoke directly to them, or demonstrated its power to them by performing a miracle in front of their own two eyes.

    So we are left with this more modern(?) hand-waving brand of theists who no longer even expect god to do anything at all. They have more than enough evidence that god exists when they look at a tree, or a pile of bricks, or see some people walking by. These are the ones, I suspect, who ask atheists what kind of evidence would satisfy them, as if there is already so much of it that it could only be overlooked by the flawed character of an atheist.

    I don't know if those are the same theists as those who believe god helped them (for example) win a sports game, even though it did not help some other people who were starving, or being murdered. I think that is probably a different brand of theist, but I'm not really sure.
     
    James R and sideshowbob like this.
  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    No, that's not the implication. Everything arises from natural laws of one sort or another and a God is not required or necessary.

    Thus your test for God...
     
  12. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    Well obviously you are not arguing that the evidence for this claim of yours (where everything arises from) on the epistemological basis of empiricism. Perhaps you need to start a separate thread (which can hopefully stay out of the cesspool) to explain exactly what you are talking about.
     
  13. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Not necessary. I was answering your questions as to what kind of evidence it would take to believe that there was a God. Cure cancer and end violence.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  14. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    You don't understand. Perhaps you weren't involved in the other thread, but it involved your ilk being shown "something" and whining about it. This prompted Bowser to start this thread to ask (your ilk) what you would require to see in the name of "something" and you are whining about having nothing to say. At least if you want to whine, do it in the correct thread.
     
  15. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    The answer was "anything". I would require anything that concretely suggests the presence of an elephant in the room. If you have nothing, that's fine. We already knew that anyway. Just don' t pretend that there are some mysterious "requirements" that aren't being fulfilled.
     
  16. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    How cannot it be the implication when you say (bolding, mine ... just in case you don't realize what just came right off your keyboard ...)
    .
    It seems you have got more immediate evidence issues on your plate, namely on what basis you explaining everything in the world so completely that you can authoritatively talk about it in such a manner.

    .
    First you have to be clear about what epistemology you are using to back your claim about everything in the universe. It's clearly not empirical.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  17. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    1,906
    As I said, there is already an "anything" thread to latch your teeth on to.
    I get it you want to whine. I am just trying to send you to the right thread to do it so it looks better.
     
  18. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    My point is my response was to your question of what it would take rather than it being about any claim that I'm raising. My response wasn't about my claims.
     
  19. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    1,906
    Well yes, claiming the universe proves God doesn't exist seems to be a claim that involves more psychotropic drugs than a Shamanistic cleansing ritual.
     
  20. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    This is the right thread. The OP asks what evidence would be required to "prove" God. As I have said several times, in direct answer to that qustion: what is required is the same evidence as we would require for anything else. It isn't a special case. If you claim that there's an elephant in the room, show us evidence of an elephant, in the room.
     
  21. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    As I said, you are in the wrong thread. The other thread is the "show me your elephant thread". This is the "what is the elephant, IYHO" thread.
     
  22. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    An elephant is an elephant. Do I have to explain the metaphor to you? The claim was that God is so obvious that you can't avoid seeing him. If he's that obvious, show us ANY obvious aspect.
     
  23. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I haven't made any claims of "prove". I just said that the Universe is the same with or without God. The drugs are needed to make up "God".
     

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