It always has bewildered me being in a scientific field that there are so many religious scientists. I had one pose a question to me the other day, one that I honestly had never considered before. I would like to pose it to the community and see others requirements.
What evidence would make you change your mind and start believing in a higher power? My first response was obviously others must have had the same, simultaneous experience to ensure I was not in the middle of a stroke, hallucinating etc... Beyond this, what requirements should be have.
Naturally, I posed the question back to the religionist, and of course the answer was no evidence would convince them that their god was not real.
Sorry Luara, I didn't organize my response to the OP as well as I could have. The first part of my response dealt with the final sentence, where the OP flipped the question back to the religionists. It made no sense to me to ask a theist what it would take to convince them of the existence of a deity. I assumed he had asked what it would take to convince them to disavow their belief in a deity. This was the opposite of what was discussed in the first two OP paragraphs. My mistake if I misunderstood.
The respect I am willing to give to an alien civilization, even if more advanced than ours, is a whole different discussion than the respect I would give to a deity responsible for the creation and possible continuation of everything that exists. Of course, no aspect of this should be off limits. I imagine it should be discussed the possibility a deity might exist with ethics/morals we are opposed to, sub-deities, good vs. evil, etc., etc., etc...
BTW, based upon this and other posts, I quite like your style of thinking.
The respect I am willing to give to an alien civilization, even if more advanced than ours, is a whole different discussion than the respect I would give to a deity responsible for the creation and possible continuation of everything that exists.
Perhaps with sufficiently advanced technology - a large enough particle accelerator for example :) an alien civilization could create a universe. And perhaps, observe the universe somehow or even influence it after it's born - we don't know what the physics of that alien universe would be.
BTW, based upon this and other posts, I quite like your style of thinking.
In actuality, I do not think such an event could possibly happen to us. As Atheists, we believe strongly that no such occurrence has ever manifested itself in the existence of humanity that would lead us to believe in a higher power. As such, any bizarre occurrence that would enter into my own personal experience (encountering aliens, having Jesus himself break bread with me, etc) would simply be another event in the existence of humanity, but it certainly would not prove the relevance of religion. I simply cannot fathom that such evidence could ever be presented to me, that hasn't be presented already, that would lead me to change my rightful belief in humanism. Am I mistaken there?
By the way - my first of I hope many replies on Atheist Nexus - I am still getting used to the 'forum' idea - but am so glad to have found a global community of like minded and rational people. It is a true pleasure to 'meet' each of you virtually.
As Atheists, we believe strongly that no such occurrence has ever manifested itself in the existence of humanity that would lead us to believe in a higher power.
Atheism is defined in a variety of ways. This site defines a nontheist as someone who doesn't have a belief in a deity. What you are describing is a "strong atheist" position.
I've made the playful argument for the existence of God to atheists, that the universe has been here for many billions of years - we are very unlikely to be the first civilization to come along, and the conditions for earthlike life have existed for billions of years, so there probably ARE civilizations billions of years old, around, and they might as well be Gods so far as we're concerned. Perhaps indifferent or hostile Gods, but Gods all the same.
At least, if civilizations don't inevitably exterminate themselves by sophisticated warfare.
Laura - I understand what you are saying here - but there is a clear delineation to be made between 'higher power' and the plural of God - 'gods'. Ancient civilisations had many gods - nearly a god for anything under the sun. Did this constitute that all gods were created equal? Where they all a 'higher power'? Quite possibly, but my study of religious history teaches otherwise. The original issue in this thread had to do with a higher power. That implies a singular 'God' (although I realise that could be open to interpretation). When you start talking about gods that have existed throughout the years, you open yourself up to having to explain major and minor gods, their various functions, and who could become a god. In modern day religion, for example, the Mormon faith teaches that followers can follow a path where they, themselves, will become a god. Is that 'god' on the same level as the higher power that they worship here on earth? Simply put - no - they are not - within the teaching of the Mormon church itself. So, one would need to first provide evidence in such a higher power (which I don't believe exists) before one could put a secondary emphasis on the thousands of gods that have existed throughout the years. You are correct - gods have always and will always be present among us and throughout society - that does make them, however, 'real'. Just my 'two cents' worth.
You are correct - gods have always and will always be present among us and throughout society
That isn't what I said!
Believing in one Higher Power doesn't rule out that that Higher Power might be a combination of many agencies. Even the Christian Trinity is like that.
Actually the Trinity is specifically three-in-one. The Holy Spirit, God, and Jesus are all the same. They come in different forms, correct, but they are not 'gods'. Not even close. All three forms in the Trinity are indicative of one Higher Power - so in order to believe in either of those three means that you believe there is evidence in a higher power, which was actually my point. Even in the Torah we have reflected hundreds of different 'gods', which evidently pissed God (the Higher power off), which resulted in a series of events that kicked off the New Testament. So, I guess I fail to see how a discussion of 'gods' in whatever form they may come could point to a higher power. The major monotheistic religions of the world all forbid this, in actuality, so if you could prove a high power exists, then the inference would be that all other 'gods' would be squashed, as this would mandated by God him or her self. Anyway - this is a fascinating and stimulating discussion...
That is a quibble. The question was "what would convince you to believe in a Higher Power?".
A Higher Power. That doesn't imply it's the only one.
Maybe a very old book. Nobody would question the book because it was so old and it claimed it was the word of god. Oh, oh! Then we go to other parts of the world and they have a similar thing with many different books. That's OK. None of it is any problem until travel becomes commonplace for everyone and they start flying airplanes into buildings. Then Xtians claim the others are getting ahead of us and we have to do something. You hunker down to hide and say "Jesus Christ," and someone thinks you are praying. Your desire in being out of this kind of world has nothing to do with religion. You are simply scared.
Then you turn on the TV and many different types of men are talking about their very old books. Certainly this is the word of god, and it also says so inside the book. What is wrong with you? Can't you believe it?
But you just keep sitting around waiting for god to speak for himself. The world goes on and somehow god isn't interested. "Hey, god. Are you there?"
Better quit talking like that because it shows you believe already.
Depends on what "higher power" even means. As Arthur C. Clarke once said (I think), any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. Advanced alien species could make us think they were gods. Generally I turn this around on the believer and ask them for the actual reasons they do believe in a higher power, and shoot down each one in turn (to show why those reasons aren't convincing to me, and shouldn't be convincing to them).
I believe that IF there is a god it won't be human, and it would supernatural being beyond human understanding with no scientific explanation but still provides a solid proof of its existence, and it's power over human life in every single aspect, a being who will not tell me to settle for injustice in life to be compensated for it in heaven.
I'm still a new atheist and I'm always looking for any supernatural occurrence to prove any religion related stories exist, as I'm sick of hearing horror stories about dead people going to hell or heaven like they can tell, also stories about devils, angels etc.
and as long as I don't find any proof I will be a proud atheist who regrets following a religion for a damn second.
Luara, I don't see any more "Reply" buttons so I'll respond here.
I've started getting the idea that it is fun for you to play with these ideas. Not so much for me anymore.
Many years ago I had a friend that would talk with me about things like this, and things like "what would happen if an irresistible force men an immovable object?" He said I was the first mormon he met that admitted it was possible that god created adam and eve with evolution.
Anyway, I don't enjoy philosophizing like I used to. Sorry. Also, It's much harder to delve into things as deeply on the net as it is face-face.
First god created by the current god? OK, If you say so. What did he do? Travel back in time?