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Thread: What would count as proof of God

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    What would count as proof of God

    So it's been asked here and within philosophy generally, what would qualify as convincing evidence of God to a skeptic not ideologically inclined to believe?

    I thought of something that would be rather compelling. Suppose one day every person on the planet simultaneously saw the face and heard the voice of God in the sky. That voice simultaneously declared to every human some personal fact unknown to anyone but that person, then also told them some personal fact unknown to anyone about a total stranger they never met along with that person's contact information so they could verify it. It wouldn't be surprising to for those who already believe to claim both facts they were told are accurate. But this would mean that every non-believing human would also verify their unique facts, which means many millions of people worldwide. While mass hallucinations can occur, they do so b/c all the people are within a particular shared context and frame of mind. That would be impossible for everyone on the planet at the same moment. I can't think of any possible explanation that wouldn't entail some form of supernatural, either God or at least some moment of unified psychic type consciousness.

    Would you find this convincing? If not, what alternative explanation could you give?

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    So it's been asked here and within philosophy generally, what would qualify as convincing evidence of God to a skeptic not ideologically inclined to believe?

    I thought of something that would be rather compelling. Suppose one day every person on the planet simultaneously saw the face and heard the voice of God in the sky. That voice simultaneously declared to every human some personal fact unknown to anyone but that person, then also told them some personal fact unknown to anyone about a total stranger they never met along with that person's contact information so they could verify it. It wouldn't be surprising to for those who already believe to claim both facts they were told are accurate. But this would mean that every non-believing human would also verify their unique facts, which means many millions of people worldwide. While mass hallucinations can occur, they do so b/c all the people are within a particular shared context and frame of mind. That would be impossible for everyone on the planet at the same moment. I can't think of any possible explanation that wouldn't entail some form of supernatural, either God or at least some moment of unified psychic type consciousness.

    Would you find this convincing? If not, what alternative explanation could you give?
    There is literally nothing that a determined skeptic could not find a "scientific explanation" for. If it really was that widespread a phenomenon, it would already be characterized as a "natural law" no more in need of a supernatural explanation than gravity or biogenesis. Laws just exist, positing a Lawgiver is an unnecessary multiplication of entities.



    I mean, everyone knows that the mysterious knowledge thing happens every now and then, and it happens to everyone regardless of religion. Even if we accept that this is caused by "God", whose god is it supposed to prove the existence of? There are thousands of claimed gods, after all. Saying "God did it" adds no new information, and only leads to argument.

    In any case, just because we don't understand the "mysterious knowledge phenomenon" now doesn't mean we never will. The God of the Gaps shrinks every single time a new scientific discovery is made, and there have been exciting experiments in neurobiology lately that might explain this odd quality of unprompted communal empathetic responses. Only theists think that everything strange or unexpected must necessarily be supernatural in origin.

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    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
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    There is no single argument or piece of evidence that should, or ought to, convince anyone of the existence or nonexistence of God. That kind of question oversimplifies the nature of belief in complex concepts, which rely on a network of supporting beliefs. For example, belief in God relies on belief in the plausibility of gods in general. It relies on the belief that mental events can take place independently of brains and that spirits can somehow perceive and control physical reality in the same way that nervous systems control bodily movements. It requires one to believe that people can communicate with disembodied spirits or that such spirits are somehow a part of physical reality itself. That memories, emotions, and perceptions--everything one experiences--can continue after brain death.

    Religious skeptics tend to be materialists who reject a range of beliefs that support a conclusion that god belief is plausible and justifiable. In order to convince someone to give up their belief in gods, one has to work on the foundation of beliefs that support it. People who end up rejecting religious beliefs are those for whom the foundations have eroded and crumbled away.

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    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Convincing evidence, reasoning, and proof are human things. If there was a god and he wanted everyone to know him and his nature then he would just magically make it so. According to Christians, god communicates through revelations so if everyone in the world woke 'knowing the truth' there could be no questioning, only sure and absolute recognition.

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    So, none of the responses provide any kind of explanation. And note that this isn't really one event but 7 billion events happening simultaneously (every person on the planet seeing and hearing the same entity and acquiring new information about another random person on the planet). And it isn't merely a "weird" event, but very specifically a personified entity imparting knowledge unobtainable via the senses. And while one such event to one person is explicable, it happening to everyone regardless of their prior beliefs and current context and situation make some form of internally generated hallucination impossible. The entity being real would be the most parsimonious explanation, even if that entity was some sort of physical alien being with the power to access all human minds at once that would still make it god-like. The other parsimonious alternative would be some form of psychic mind meld of all humans at once which would still require mental activity transcending the physical brain.

    Also, this is not a "God of the gaps" scenario. God of the gaps is when something that has no direct relevance to a God is unexplained, so God is inserted into that gap in knowledge. This would be direct observation by every human of an entity that would meet the basic parameters of the God concept.

    You can say that it if this entity was observed so universally that would then be "natural" but that is a cop out. If God was observed, then God would be natural too. To claim that there are no observations that would lead to the conclusion that something akin to God exists is to reject empiricism itself.

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    Quantum Hot Dog Kharakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    So it's been asked here and within philosophy generally, what would qualify as convincing evidence of God to a skeptic not ideologically inclined to believe?
    Physical constants of the universe have a definitive mathematical message built into them. It would have to be built into the structure of the universe in such a way that any observer would get the same value.

    Something like the FST, which is the same no matter what units we use for G, kg, mass, energy, time, etc. would have to have a message encoded into it, that anyone could see indicated intelligence.

    So... that's about it. If the FST, or related constants, have no meaning hidden in them? Well... then... I don't know.

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    Senior Member remez's Avatar
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    Your thread title had me all ready to go. But then you went here……….
    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    So it's been asked here and within philosophy generally, what would qualify as convincing evidence of God to a skeptic not ideologically inclined to believe?
    Two issues. One bad and one good.

    1. You narrowed it to the skeptics only
    But
    2. you did replace “proof” with “evidence” and that was important b/c they are not synonymous.

    I’m not a skeptic when it comes to God’s existence, so I can’t address what it would take. I was at one time a skeptic and it took evidence, philosophy (reasoning, arguments, etc) and theology for me to trust in God’s existence. Recorded miracles were not even plausible to me until God became plausible. Think about it. IF God exists and he created this universe then of course miracles are possible.

    But I’m a skeptic of many other beliefs like your assumed existence of mass hallucinations.

    So really the issue is what and how do we reason a premise or argument to be rational? Ground floor epistemology. That’s how I can assert that there are rational arguments for God’s existence and you purport the opposite. We operate from and different ground floor.

    You simply reason that theists have no reason for God’s existence, b/c faith is blind. And lazily dismiss the existence of arguments that do attempt to provide reason for God’s existence. These arguments are all irrational b/c faith means without reason. There is nowhere to begin.

    You also reason that science is on your side, yet my theism has no conflict with scientific evidence. I embrace it. I by contrast reason that your methodological naturalism limits your ability to follow the evidence where it leads. You mentioned latter in another post that you seemed to embrace empiricism. I strongly embrace empirical evidence and would show you quickly that your empiricism is self-refuting. Thus empiricism is an improper epistemological foundation from which to assert that God does not exist.

    If you can open your mind to the fact that I do have reasons for my trust in God’s existence then address these theistically neutral questions to open our epistemological exploration….

    1. What is the purpose of an argument to begin with?
    2. What would make a premises or an argument rational?
    And crucially……….
    3. Must the premises be absolutely certain to be considered rational or is the premise considered rational to believe if it is more plausible than its alternatives?

    The answers are fairly short but critical for us in exploring our different epistemologies. Upon your response I’ll reply in kind.

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    Senior Member remez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Convincing evidence, reasoning, and proof are human things. If there was a god and he wanted everyone to know him and his nature then he would just magically make it so. According to Christians, god communicates through revelations so if everyone in the world woke 'knowing the truth' there could be no questioning, only sure and absolute recognition.
    parsed below....................

    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Convincing evidence, reasoning, and proof are human things.
    Forgive me for being direct, but to me that can only infer that human reasoning can lead to no good end and therefore should be rejected. But then you journey on to reason………..

    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    If there was a god and he wanted everyone to know him and his nature then he would just magically make it so. According to Christians, god communicates through revelations so if everyone in the world woke 'knowing the truth' there could be no questioning, only sure and absolute recognition.
    So assuming you’re human we should reject your reasoning.

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    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by remez View Post

    parsed below....................


    Forgive me for being direct, but to me that can only infer that human reasoning can lead to no good end and therefore should be rejected. But then you journey on to reason………..

    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    If there was a god and he wanted everyone to know him and his nature then he would just magically make it so. According to Christians, god communicates through revelations so if everyone in the world woke 'knowing the truth' there could be no questioning, only sure and absolute recognition.
    So assuming you’re human we should reject your reasoning.
    You really need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

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    Formerly Joedad
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    I hold that nothing unnatural exists. Think about that for a second. So if the event you describe happens it is certainly something natural. Gods are not natural things so if they exist they can only be something natural in need of an explanation. Like you said, maybe they're advanced life forms, but they're not gods.

    Gods are ontological constructs and if my ontology doesn't allow for gods then there will never be any gods for me. If you show me a god and say it's god I'll want to figure it out, knowing all the while it isn't a god.

    How would I know the event you describe wasn't caused by a Leprechaun? Aren't leprechauns, fairies, ghosts and other such critters alleged to have supernatural powers? What prevents them from pulling off such an event? Look how many homes Santa gets to in just one night for millions of people who believe in the Santa.

    Maybe if the god turned me into a god and I could experience being a god I might be convinced. Right now, however, the concept is nonsensical except as fictional/emotional/cultural entertainment.

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