what would I need to convince me of God?

I was off grid for a few days and came up with this. This is an early draft, I could expand it quite a bit and also should come up with the TLDR version. If Sherlock comes back, it’d be interesting to hear his take on it. Or anyone’s.

Not a miracle, not writing on a mountain, just some words that truly moved me. Moved me beyond my normal sense of who I am and who we are to an understanding of how we fit in the scheme of things and helped me find a purpose. Not for just a moment, but something I could hold on to and read again and go there again and sometimes find something new. And I could show the words to someone else and pass this on. I wouldn’t need to shame them for not getting it or tell them to try harder or to let go or to not try so hard or to read more Rumi then come back to it, but they would get it, the way it happens in the stories and all the movies and all the religious shows.

It wouldn’t have to be magic. It might require some study, some defining of terms, or some story behind the words to better understand the symbols. I don’t mind the work, but the results should be repeatable. If the words resonate with the human experience then they should be understandable by a range of humans. If I have to step so completely out of this life to see God that I can no longer recognize who I was before, then what is this life for? What kind God would create such a strange test or trial? If that is God, I’m not interested. If God created all this and isn’t interested enough to care if I have proof or not then we’re fine. We can exist without having a relationship.

Instead of anything decent though, I’m given chapter and verse and find problems with it and then told that I ask too much, that I am angry with God for not revealing more, that I need to experience the community in this particular church or do that particular ritual. Let’s say I do those things and after some months or years come to feeling more at home in the universe, or deeper in love with human kind, that’s great, but that is just being human. I have done that without God. I have felt the oneness, the ecstasy of sacrifice to the greater good, the joy of sharing pain, the praise that comes from grieving together. We don’t need a particular God with a particular name from a particular nation who came here in a particular time and revealed itself to particular people to have those experiences of oneness, love, and togetherness. We don’t need to believe in something out there to discover those things that are in us.

Send God your money, incare of me. works for the TV guys. I’ll have to think about your question, no time right now. But I do know when I was a young buck, I would believe in any God that the girl I was with believed in.

Back when I was making the transition from agnostic to full-fledged atheist (which is just a state of mind really), I used to worry about this. What if, without meaning to, I had closed my mind to the evidence for God’s existence? What if I had hardened my heart too much? But then I reasoned this way – even if I was no longer sure what it would take to convince me of God’s existence, if He really WAS the master of the universe, the limitless intellect who had created all of creation, then He would know my mind inside and out. HE would know exactly what it would take, exactly what words would overcome my prejudices and get through to me. To God (if there really was a God), it would be simplicity itself for him to pick some quite time when I’m open and receptive, and just say, “Hey, listen to what I’m saying.” The very fact that this hasn’t happened yet means that either there isn’t a God or He doesn’t attach a very high priority to me believing in Him.

Good point Advocatus. I briefly touch on that with the part about not being interested in that God. It’s a variation on Divine Hiddenness, which I find a very compelling argument against God. I’m trying to combine that, the argument from personal experience, god as community, and “read your Bible and pray”, all in one.

The other three, and many others, are ones that I find people don’t stick to for long. They’ll realize their cognitive dissonance and switch to “well, you should just go to my church, you’ll see”. There isn’t a good argument for that one, because they are claiming some unique combination of tradition and those particular people, and it might very well result in some wonderful expression of humanity that adds value to their lives and people around them. Of course they’re wasting their time reading stories about demons going into pigs, but they don’t care, they won’t defend that, they only see the good stuff that comes out of their time in church.

but the results should be repeatable.
How can that be? Every human has a unique life that imparts a unique perspective.

Heck I’ve found what you’re talking about in Evolution and the Earth Centrist’s perspective - but it makes no sense to most anyone else.

Yet, it’s foundation rests on physical reality, while accepting the spiritual that spring from our hearts and minds. But, it’s all just another bloke’s hot air.

Yet its real.


{oh and Advocatus. love the way you phrased it. I totally agree.}


ps. The missing key to appreciating our place in the universe… Specifically, the Magisteria of Physical Reality vs the Magisteria of our Human Mindscape. ;- )

I’ve been thinking about this since you brought it up and I really don’t know what it would take for me to believe. First of all, one would have to define god and then we go from there. Of course, most definitions of deity are a human creation of either animism or another. Either way, the idea of a something being a god is in the human mind. One could say nature or the universe is god, but that is also a human concept of deity brought on by awe, which a feeling brought on by neurotransmitters in the brain- an external stimuli triggers neurochemistry in the brain giving an emotional feeling that humans label as awe. It’s also giving nature and the universe power greater than anything, which it does, but labeling it God is by a definition a human concept. So, I really have no clue what what would cause me to believe.

How can that be? Every human has a unique life that imparts a unique perspective.
That's kind of the point. I wanted to say something about scientifically interrogating this writing (that doesn't exist) without using too much scientific terminology. That scares people off. And, there are people who say they read the Bible and it was inspiring and that it's the most amazing story they know and it has all this wisdom, etc. Except, they can't go back and say, here, page 324, some wisdom that doesn't exist anywhere else. Or, no one thought this until this was written here, or this is the best expression of this idea.
One could say nature or the universe is god, but that is also a human concept
It's pretty common for people to respond to questions about their particular god by starting to realize their conception has some holes in it, then dropping into reasoning like this, that the universe is god. It acts as a sort of circuit breaker to the conversation, leaving nothing else to be said, except that we now have two words for one thing. If you go into talking about neurotransmitters, they get quizzical looks and say you are just needing an explanation for everything or taking the mystery out of life or something. These conversations get rather hopeless. If someone isn't interested in knowing, they set up barriers to why they should be interested. That's why I include this part:
If the words resonate with the human experience then they should be understandable by a range of humans.
I can get it that talk of neurotransmitters doesn't excite everyone. It's the people that don't get it that their scripture doesn't excite me that are the problem. So I challenge that. I know they are thinking that they were inspired by some words, and some people around them were also, but what about the people who weren't? The next level some take it to is that there is something wrong with me that I'm not getting it, or not willing to accept that there is something incomprehensible to me but that I should still worship it. Although I see that as completely bonkers, it may be the weakest part of my argument in terms of logic, that part where I say I'm not interested in god if that what it is. I'm not sure there is a logical way to respond to something so illogical.

I’m going over my notes on Dan Dennet’s “Breaking the Spell”. I found a section that talks about these “veils”. Dennet is interesting because he doesn’t do the name calling a lot of others do. He is exploring why someone or some culture who allow for this self delusion.

For instance, elaborate sacrifices to gods are everywhere to be found, and of course nowhere do the gods emerge from invisibility and sit down to eat the beautiful roast pork or drink the wine. Rather, the wine is poured into the ground or onto the fire, where the gods may enjoy it in unobservable privacy, and the partaking of the food is accomplished by either burning it to ashes or delegating it to the shamans, who get to eat it as part of their official duties as representatives of the gods. As Dana Carvey's Church Lady would exclaim, "How convenient!" As usual, we don't have to implicate the shamans, individually or even as a diffuse group of conspirators, in the devising of this rationale, since it could just emerge by the differential replication of rites, but the shamans would have to be pretty dense not to appreciate this adap- tation, and even appreciate the need for deflecting attention from it. In some cultures, a more egalitarian convenience has emerged: everybody gets to eat the food that has somehow also been invisibly and nondestructively eaten by the gods. The gods can have their cake and we can eat it too. Isn't the transparency of these all-too convenient arrangements risky? Yes, so it is almost always protected by a second veil: These are mysteries beyond all comprehension! Don't even try to understand them! And as often as not, a third veil is provided: it is forbidden to ask too many questions about all these mysteries!

Well, you accomplished quite a bit in an hour, even had time to register a complaint. Welcome back. Sorry the site is not up to your standards.

“Believe” is a complex word. The theologian’s name escapes me at the moment, but he said, in the Bible, the word was used more like “beloved”, so it’s not a statement on what you’re thinking but on what you’re feeling. But that’s not what we’re talking about now.

Matt Dillahunty has developed short answers to questions like this over the decades he has tried to talk with “believers”. They’ll ask him something like, “well, don’t you believe in evolution?” He says he has considered the evidence and is convinced that the explanation of that evidence is that everything living thing we see evolved from simpler organisms. Saying “believe” is just a lot easier than “considered the evidence etc. etc.…”

I don’t think you really have a problem with understanding the word though. I think you have faith in something and can’t understand why others don’t. You don’t understand what a reasonable premise is vs an unreasonable one so building on them logically isn’t something you would do.

... but he said, in the Bible, the word "believe" was used more like “beloved”
Who says you can't learn anything studying the Bible ;- )

I hadn’t heard that, but it really strikes a cord, thanks for tossing it in.

If you go into talking about neurotransmitters, they get quizzical looks and say you are just needing an explanation for everything or taking the mystery out of life or something.

I don’t know, (not to sound like Gene Roddenberry and one of my favourite scientists (Neil De Grasse Tyson) all mixed into one) I think it makes the mystery quite interesting, because to me, the brain is not only like a computer, but also lights up like the universe and therefore is like the final frontier to explore. Life is very much the same way- something to explore. So yeah, even trying to say I need an explanation or taking the mystery out of life is a matter of that person’s opinion, as well as perception, and has nothing to do with how I see science and life. What takes the mystery out for them is what makes a mystery [to be solved by science], which I think is really awesome.



.If I have to step so completely out of this life to see God that I can no longer recognize who I was before, then what is this life for? What kind God would create such a strange test or trial?
This reminds me of the beginning of my long religious crusis.

I went to college in the early 1980s, when Evangelicalism was rising.

Until that time, I’d felt comfort and safety with my my American Milquetoast Fluffy Folklore God — the one who loves everybody, whatever their religion; protects your loved ones; grants your little prayers; and doesn’t throw anybody into Hell (except maybe Hitler).

Until I had a Fundamentalist roommate in a dorm where about half the residents were “born again” members of Campus Crusade for Christ, I had never encountered the kind of extremist Christians that believed most people in the world go to Hell, and don’t even consider Catholics fellow “Christians.”

The CCC (now Cru) prosyletizing at that time was extreme (eventually, lawsuits later tamed it down). And they were happy, happy, happy, happy. For a variety of reasons I was vulnerable to their rhetoric, and after a year of this, I became “Born Again.”

Unlike anyone else, though, the experience did not fill me with joy. In fact, it plunged ne into an existential crisis — anxiety, depression, and suicidality — that damn near made me drop out, even though I mostly kept it secret.

Why? Well, MY God, the one I had blindly trusted for 19 years, died. He was replaced with a God I didn’t recognize and didn’t like. For the first time, I “became aware” that all my friends in the Jewish neighborhood where I grew up…my agnostic parents…the starving Ethiopians on TV … virtually everyone on earth … was bound for hell unless they got “saved.”

All the joys, sorrows, accomplishments, trials, sufferings, and challenges of most humans on the planet were meaningless, because the only thing that mattered was that at some point they would pray to Jesus Christ and accept him as their savior.

If you have never believed this, it sounds easy to dismiss. Like a threat that if you don’t wear a blue hat, a dragon will eat you.

But when you are young, and dealing with trauma, and surrounded by hellfire preaching every fucking day, it can sink in.

So…BEFORE being Born Again, I believed in a loving God, and some sort of nice afterlife for pretty much everybody.

AFTER being Born Again, I believed that God so hated the world that he dammed everyone by default, and sent his son to be tortured and set up a test of belief so a few of us could be saved from hell. And it was my job to convince others to accept it … even though it was horrible.

That wasn’t “Good News,” it was “Bad News,” and I felt horribly betrayed. And as I looked around me, at all the people in the world going about their business, life became meankngless.

I could not just choose not to believe it. That took literally 30 years.


TBH, I am confused as to why no one else seems to have this experience.






Hello Lausten, to answer your question, “What Would I Need To Convince Me Of God?” First you need to define what “GOD” you are talking about. To me you are always jumbling the timelines to create a mixed stew of religion. The fact that you are even asking the question says a lot to where you are at in the understanding and level of comprehending the pathways of your need’s verses reality. The key to your question is the “I”. You are asking what it takes for you to be convinced, is that not correct? How many years, how many words have you read, how many people have you listened to and how many debates have you been in. One must correctly assume that you have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge about the bible and Christian religion and the viewpoints of people and groups that are around today. Are you using that knowledge to satisfy any emotional stresses do to spirit and afterlife questions you may have? Or are you searching for a recognized caste level due to the knowledge you have acquired?

Can you teach an old dog new tricks, might be what you are asking? We took completely different pathways to understanding religion. Your views are from the bible and Paul’s pathway. My views are from history and Jesus’s pathway. Therefore, to me, your question is silly, but I do understand where that question would sound reasonable to you.

To find a purpose, you ask. I take Jesus’s viewpoint of the Knowledge religion. Man was created to fulfill the needs of god for the good of mankind. Your pathway has no set in stone purpose and your pathway objectives change with the wind. The red flags are all around you and you even talk about the problems, but I don’t see you changing or even asking the right questions.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks, might be what you are asking? We took completely different pathways to understanding religion. Your views are from the bible and Paul’s pathway.
My question does not require any particular god. Although difficult to pin down, there is a loose definition of what constitutes a god. It's defined well enough so people know what I mean when I say the word. You are attempting to use a centuries old maneuver of claiming that the problem is not the god you have defined, it's a misunderstanding of what god is. You throw in "pathway" as if that makes what you're saying more profound. It doesn't. Define your god, show me how it leads to a better world, or even has led to this world, then I'll evaluate that.

I’ve always wondered about what it would take to convince me. The only thing would be experiencing something that’s physically impossible, but then I’d have to somehow know there’s not a natural explanation for the event.

Last week while on vacation to BC, we were driving in the dark through the mountains late at night, miles from any towns or farms or houses. After not seeing anyone on the road for about a half hour there was a very loud and eerie screeching, whooshing sound from somewhere. My wife and kids all looked at me freaked out and I looked back just as freaked out. I slowed down and looked into the darkness, having no clue what we heard, but knowing something was out there. After a few kilometers of driving, we heard it again, just as loud, and way more eerie because whatever was out there was following us. I slowed right down to a crawl and we all looked out the windows, expecting aliens or who-knows-what to attack us. After a few seconds, my son hollered out that he could see a train, moving the same direction as we were, through the trees about 200 yards off to the side.

Without knowing we were paralleling train tracks with a long train on it, none of us had any idea what could make that type and volume of sound in the middle of nowhere. Even though I say there is a natural explanation for everything, the only explanation I could think of was ‘aliens’, but knowing that was definitely not the answer. After we found the source we talked about what each of us had been thinking, and it turned out that all of us had only supernatural ideas in our heads (angels for my wife, monsters for my son (he plays D&D) and aliens for my daughter and me).

It’s things like that that make me wonder what it would take to convince me a god exists. If something seemingly unexplainable ever happens, I might have no clue as to the cause, but I never accept that it was supernatural. So if a god makes something happen, I won’t know what caused it to happen but I likely wouldn’t accept that a god did it… unless he makes one of my grandparents come back to life, that would do the trick.


Nice anecdote.

Yes, but will it sell copy? :wink:

Lausten has come up with the most important prerequisite question

<p style="text-align: left;">Lausten: Define your god.</p>

Instead of defining a specific god, could we simply say ‘any god’?

Since even the lamest excuse for a god will have an element of supernatural in its definition, any demonstration of the supernatural will work.