6 (Unlikely) Developments That Could Convince This Atheist To Believe in God
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And I would definitely not be persuaded by the mere fact that some people have strange experiences when they're near death. Being near death is an altered state of consciousness, and people have weird experiences when our brains are altered. We have weird experiences under all sorts of conditions: exhaustion, stress, distraction, trance-like repetition, optical illusion, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, sensory overload... any of these, and more, can create vivid "perceptions" that are entirely disconnected from external reality. You don't have to be mentally ill, or even on drugs, to have weird experiences of things that aren't there. And the oxygen deprivation and other physical changes that happen to the brain when it's near death are definitely enough to do the trick. This one isn't even close to being convincing. It makes absolutely no sense at all.
Is The Bar Too High?
Now, some believers will probably argue that my standards set the bar too high. They'll argue that I've created standards of evidence that are obviously not being met: that I've created a counter-factual world in which God might exist, but that clearly is not the world we live in.
To which I reply: Yes. That's my whole freaking point. The whole reason I don't believe in God is that there is not one scrap of good, solid evidence supporting the God hypothesis. The whole reason I don't believe in God is that every piece of evidence anyone has ever shown me in support of the God hypothesis has completely sucked. The whole reason I don't believe in God is that these criteria -- criteria that would be completely reasonable for any other hypothesis -- are not being met.
As many atheists point out: If God were real, we wouldn't be having this discussion. If God were real, it would be freaking obvious. If God were real, nobody would be an atheist. Nobody would even disagree about religion. The most obvious explanation for God's existence not being ridiculously self-evident is that God does not exist. As Julia Sweeney says in her brilliant performance piece Letting Go of God, "The world behaves exactly as you expect it would, if there were no Supreme Being, no Supreme Consciousness, and no supernatural."
And it's absurd to argue that this bar is too high. If God were real -- if there really were a God who created the universe and/or intervenes with it magically -- none of this would be beyond him. I mean -- he created the entire, 93- billion- light- years- across universe out of nothing! Surely he could make hundred-foot-high letters appear in the sky, or create a sacred text with scientific and prophetic accuracy, or consistently answer the prayers of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod! To argue that any bar is too high for him, that any standard of evidence is too rigorous for him, is ridiculous on the face of it.
Besides, just because God hasn't offered these pieces of evidence so far doesn't mean he never will. Maybe he'll decide that he tried sending his message with the flood, and he tried again with Jesus... but obviously none of that worked, humans can be kind of thick-headed sometimes. So hey, why not try that "hundred-foot letters in the sky" thing this atheist chick keeps gassing on about?
If he does, I'll change my mind.
In the meantime, I remain unconvinced.
Take The Challenge
So I've gone out on my limb. What about you?
If you're an atheist -- what evidence would convince you that your atheism was mistaken? Or that it was probably mistaken?