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 Michael Penn yesterday

There is just no evidence. There never has been. Believers want to tell you that "faith" is believing without evidence but how can you believe something that is not true and cannot be demonstrated? That is next to insanity. I do have a condition in which I would believe in an all powerful creator god. If Donald Trump came down with the ebola virus I might believe. Regardless of my hope, I really think this is not going to happen.

Comment by Idaho Spud on Tuesday

I used to have trouble knowing what would convince me, but since I heard Matt Dillahunty say  that Yahweh himself knows what it would take to dissuade him from his apostasy, but as of yet has not deigned to do so, that's seems to me to be the best answer.

Comment by Thomas Murray on Saturday

Loren,

   This morning as I woke up my first though was "Great powers requires great responsibilities"...the original quote is "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility". Of course my thoughts leads to Trump for he utterly failed at this test of times. After reading your some of your comments with my coffees, I decided that the above quote is entirely inadequate and I am approaching towards that I do not support this quote anymore.

 It is actually the other way around.

 If the common people want to keep our liberty, our social justice, maintain our privacy vs public information, freedom of the press, freedom from oppression, and freedom from tyranny, then the great responsibility rest on us, not on those in power.

 We need to be vigilant and to act accordingly to keep those in power in line to our social contract. We are only free when we maintain our control of our own lives

Comment by Loren Miller on Saturday

@Frankie: I'll stipulate that the polemics aren't just tired, they're ridiculous.  You know it and I know it.  The ongoing problem is that THEY DON'T – or won't – acknowledge that, and continue to peddle their fairy tales to the fatuous and uneducated.  As an atheist activist and member of FFRF and American Atheists, I see my job as watchdog, and I take that very seriously.  Whether Thomas Jefferson actually said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom" or not, the statement is true.  If we don't do something about the believers, nothing will be done.  I won't have that.

@Thomas Star Trek V may have been a train wreck, but it had its moments, and that is very likely its best, at least insofar as atheist concerns are addressed.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on Saturday

Loren, you asked what it would take.  I am not suggesting that the evidence i need is plausible or possible.   

And after a while the polemics grow tired.  The god-lovers are infantile.  How much more is there to say?

Comment by Thomas Murray on Saturday

Loren,

Here's my borrowed version :

   On Nimbus III, Captain Kirk, Dr.McCoy, Spock, and Sybok finally meets “God”….or perhaps not because He asked for a spaceship?


Kirk asked, “What does God need with a starship?”
McCoy responds, “Jim, what are you doing?”
Kirk says, “I'm asking a question.”
 “Who is this creature?” God asked.
“Who am I? Don't you know? Aren't you God?”
Sybok responds, “He has his doubts.”
God asks, “You doubt me?”
Kirk says, “I seek proof.”
McCoy says, “Jim! You don't ask the Almighty for his ID!”
God, “Then here is the proof you seek.” God then zapped Kirk with a bolt of energy
Kirk asks, “Why is God angry?”
Then Spock asked “God,” “You have not answered his question. What does God need with a starship?”
After that, all hell breaks loose because humanoids now demands proof and is free from the shackles of untested belief.

Comment by Loren Miller on Saturday

Frankie, any time you care to actually substantiate such "magic," I'll be all ears.  Until such time ... thanks, but no thanks.  I have all the snake oil I can use.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on Saturday

Inexplicable power, inexplicable magic, inexplicable knowledge...

Magic might include genesis of a universe or other godlike powers

Power to produce any wish instantly...

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.

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