Wednesday 6 January 2010

What would convince me of the existence of God?

In response to Manic Street Preacher's blog-post on the recent Premier Christian Radio Unbelievable? discussion between Lewis Wolpert and Russell Cowburn, I made the following comment (quoting MSP first):
I have often been asked what evidence that I as an atheist would accept for the existence of God.
I can’t say that I’ve often been asked this question, but I have heard it put to atheists enough times to make me consider what my own response would be.
And I don’t know. I think an ostensibly supernatural experience would most likely make me wonder about my sanity before I would accept that the cause of the event was divine intervention (although Lewis Wolpert’s example* would, I admit, be pretty convincing).
My answer to the direct question would probably be a request for clarification of the term “God”. I might be convinced of the deistic wind-up-the-clockwork-of-the-universe-and-throw-away-the-key type of god, but the God of Abraham seems so utterly ridiculous and untenable in so many ways, I simply have no idea what could possibly convince me of his existence, other than the most obvious, miraculous, personal revelation, in the presence of others whose sanity and corroboration I had no reason to doubt.
But really, there’s no need for me to be concerned about this. If the omni-whatever God of Abraham really exists and really wants me to believe in him, he knows perfectly well what it would take to convince me, even if I myself have no idea — and yet, so far, he appears indifferent to my lack of faith. This leads me to only one conclusion.
On a related note, I see that MSP has provoked the ire of William Dembski's Uncommon Descent bloggers (who incidentally seem to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick — so what's new?).
*Wolpert suggested that having his deceased wife returned to him would probably be enough.

1 comment:

  1. If the Templeton Foundation experiment into the efficacy of prayer had panned out and were repeatable, that would be interesting. Follow it up with experiments judging whether the prayers of any given sect are more so than another.

    That would be a start, although I have to admit I have a hard time coming up with anything that doesn't have "hyper-advanced aliens screwing with our minds" as a more parsimonious explanation than "universe-creating bodiless immortal."