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What Would It Take to Believe?

How many times have we heard it:

“What would it take for you to accept that god exists?”

Answers from atheists to this question have been many and varied.  In an interview with Randy Frazee of the Oak Hills Church of San Antonio, Texas, Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta said that a personal experience might convince him.  Various others, including Matt Dillahunty, have proposed that Yahweh himself knows what it would take to dissuade him from his apostasy, but as of yet has not deigned to do so.  Doubtless other atheists have other answers, up to and including the bold assertion that there is nothing that could induce them to accept the existence of a supernatural being which created the universe, a position as unfounded and wrongheaded as that of believers that such a being has to exist.  With that as prologue, I would like to proffer my own answer as to what would at least suggest to me that belief in a deity had something resembling justification.

There are principles in this world which are so reliable that the average person takes them for granted.  Things like the sun rising in the morning or that their car will start and take them safely to work.  Being college educated in the sciences, I have a better than average understanding of some of the scientific principles behind the seeming movements of the sun and what conditions allow my Mustang to spring to life when I press the “START” button.  Since my degree is in electrical engineering, I put considerable weight in one particular principle which I perceive to be not just fundamental but foundational to electricity and electronics: Ohm’s Law.

Ohm’s Law states a simple relationship between three parameters: voltage, current, and resistance and asserts a direct relationship between them:  V = IR.  If resistance is held constant in an electrical circuit and current is varied, voltage will also vary in direct proportion to the current.  Any variation of any of the other two parameters, will cause one or both to alter.  Resistance tends to be the constant in these instances, but apply enough current or voltage to a resistor and eventually a smell extremely familiar to electronic tinkerers will tell you that the 100-Ohm device you are working with has been altered by that event, and even then, whatever the value of that now-burnt resistor, Ohm’s Law still holds for it.

The proof I want for a posited god would be equivalent to the certainty I have for the above-mentioned principle of physics: consistent demonstrability.  For me to understand that a god is indeed part of our reality, whatever mechanism or method is used in confirming its bona fides should be as reliable as Ohm’s Law and repeatable not just for me but ANYONE.  That confirmation technique should work anywhere, under any circumstances, for any audience and yield precisely the same result: that the specified being does, in fact, exist.  No hand-waving, prayer, or unsubstantiated belief need apply.  If I am to accept what is currently an outrageous, antiquated, and ill-conceived notion as a creator-god being the first cause of reality as we know it, my understanding of that being’s existence would have to be as inalterable and certain as my grasp of Ohm’s Law.

My attitude finds welcome support as regards this little thought experiment:

I don’t want to believe; I want to know.
-- Carl Sagan

If you can’t show it, you don’t know it.
-- Aron Ra

If you’ve got the truth, you can demonstrate it.  Talking doesn’t prove it.  Show people.
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Obviously, what I’ve been talking about is the argument from evidence.  Unfortunately for the opposition, they have put forward virtually every argument possible EXCEPT one from evidence.  The reason for this is childishly simple: they have none.

And until they find some (an event as unlikely as a violation of Ohm’s Law), they won’t have me.

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Comment by Loren Miller on January 9, 2018 at 7:53pm

Chris, I'm half tempted to ask what you're on about. My point is this: regardless of how god is defined, I am demanding that those who do believe produce evidence to justify their position. To date, they have been impotent to do so. That includes Reza Aslan, who frankly makes more noise than he does cogent arguments.

And what a thermistor has to do with this whole discussion, I have NO idea.

Comment by Chris on January 9, 2018 at 7:32pm

Thermistors

May be an interesting way to look at religion and politics from a different perspective.

Comment by Chris on January 9, 2018 at 6:27pm

Asking someone to define god may be a way to throw chaff from the wheat, or husk from the rice.

Comment by Chris on January 9, 2018 at 6:24pm

Back to.

Reza Aslan, "God"

I want to know why and what others 'believe.'

Reza says to ask others who profess a belief in god to define it. He then suggests asking them what 'prayer' means to them.

Comment by Loren Miller on January 9, 2018 at 2:52pm

Ahhhh, insulation!

Comment by Grinning Cat on January 9, 2018 at 2:46pm

"... apply enough current or voltage to a resistor and eventually a smell extremely familiar to electronic tinkerers will tell you that the 100-Ohm device you are working with has been altered by that event..."

Reminds me of the Groundhog Day test of a newly designed electronic device: while facing away from it, apply power. If you see your shadow, there will be six more weeks of development.

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