Evidence for and against God’s existence

Didn’t God raise Himself from the dead?

No. There are people who believe a God exists. And this God has all the attributes I previously described. Consciousness is one of them. This is the God of classical theism. The one people have been talking about for millennia.

Yes, I have put a lot of thought into why people believe what they believe, and have used those considerations to assess my own beliefs. Most of my family, friends and work colleagues are either agnostic or atheist. So I am a “black sheep” here in Massachusetts, working as a scientist. I was raised with no religion and became a believer in college. It took many years of thinking, reading, asking, listening and experiencing to get me there. And I continue in all of those endeavors now, as well.

Please do not judge all Christians based on the negative portrayals you see of us in the media. The majority of us are not like that, but are thoughtful and reasoned.

My point is that people also incorporate their personal experiences into their belief system. Thus, if atheists or agnostics want to understand why people believe that Christ was God, then you also need to understand the role that personal experiences play in faith.

You cannot definitely prove nor disprove the existence of God. Certain evidences and experiences will influence our beliefs. Since there is no definitive proof, faith comes into play either way

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This is probably a rhetorical question, but what do you think would have have happened if you lived in a culture dominated by another religion, such as Hinduism or Islam? Do you think you would have converted to those religions?

Being an atheist, I am the black sheep in my family, so we are Bizarro-world twins if you will. My family are wonderful people and kind christians, and I know many wonderful people in the faith. I also know that they roll their eyes at some of the same nonsense I do.

I am fully aware of that, which is why I don’t completely discount the existence of deities.

The middle ground is not knowing if deities exist, and lacking a positive belief in deities until there is convincing evidence. I don’t see how that qualifies as having faith.

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Just my opinion, but I think it’s a mistake to imply that Christians are being “judged,” here on this forum, based on “negative portrayals…in the media.” Unless when you say “media” you mean data that describes the beliefs and commitments of evangelicals in the US. Those data are not consistent with a claim that a “majority” are “thoughtful and reasoned.” The beliefs of evangelical Christians account for at least 3/4 of the support for the clearly anti-science anti-reason president and his administration, and for rejection of scientific theories (most notably evolution) by ~40% of Americans. If you are objecting to blanket criticism of “Christians” without stipulating “evangelical” or “conservative,” then I understand your frustration. But I reject your claim that the dismal reputation of your religion is due to “negative portrayals in the media.” I call on you instead to own these disturbing facts about the religion.

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This argument misuses the word ‘faith’, unintentionally but in a way that is a bit too common IMO on a forum populated by thoughtful people. To see why this claim is so far off, replace ‘God’ in those sentences with any or all of these suggested characters: Russell’s teapot, Nessie, Thor I mean Loki, Mórrígan, Bob*, Dumbledore, Holy Supreme Wind, or Titania.

It is simply not defensible to talk about “faith” in the context of disbelief in gods. Any gods.

*Bob is not well known and even more poorly described in the sacred literature, but is omnipotent, omniscient, unpredictable, capricious, and fond of implanting and erasing human memories. She turns people into newts, all the time, but no one has ever seen it happen.

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Why would faith not be used here? You have to have a reason for lacking belief. If you lack a belief in an intelligent creator you must have faith the universe we know exists without intelligent cause.

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Answered in my post.

I am going to guess that you don’t believe that the Mórrígan is leading health care workers into battle, washing their garments in blood before they are fated to die. I don’t believe this. Shall we start a new thread about the reasons we are unbelievers? I guess you already think that we are both exercising faith by not believing in the Mórrígan.

EDIT: it’s probably too late for me, especially if the Mórrígan is as bloodthirsty and vengeful as the legends teach, but in hopes of avoiding grisly death, I will publicly confess that I believe it is possible that the Mórrígan exists and loves me and wants me to be happy.

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I do not think this is the same. As a Christian, my faith implies not only a belief in a theistic worldview, but also a trust in God. It might even be possible that a bare bones philosophical theism does not really rise to faith, but I will not go to mats for that. The point is that there is more to the usual connotation of faith than simply holding a presupposition, a skeptical stance, or a worldview.

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Hi Ron
Here is a definition of faith. I think it is fairly broad. Do you disagree with it?

Faith , derived from Latin fides and Old French feid, is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept.

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Sure, a reasonable definition. Atheism is a concept (what idea isn’t), so on some level you can argue, “hey, we’re the same buddy - me and you, it’s just that I have faith in God, and you have faith in a materialistic universe.” The impetus for this in Christian apologetics is to position faith as inescapable, and therefore establish an equivalence of onus and burden of proof.

This has always rankled me, because, as you stated, faith is a broadly defined word, common in usage, meaning whatever a writer has in his noggin at the time, and thus poorly suited for formal logic. I contend that conflating “faith” in God with “faith” in atheism is disrespectful to both in that they do not, and really cannot, embody the same meaning. Consider the Biblical verse “now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” How is faith in naturalistic materialism anything like that? Same word, very different connotations. It seems to me that many, not all - I do not presume to speak for anybody else - atheists assert that lack of faith in faith is fundamental to their lack of faith in God.

I happen to know there is an invisible, blue, elephant behind you right now. Of course you do not have to come up with a reason to justify lacking such belief. Lack of belief just is not equivalent to belief, and lack of faith is not equivalent to faith, even when scaled up to questions of existence and worldview.

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Thanks Stephen, I appreciate that you are not judging me. However, I have felt personally judged here (on older threads as well), in such a way that makes me think that people must be making assumptions about who I am and what I think without knowing me. I was responding to a particular example of that. It was implied that I had not put reasoned thought or consideration into my reasons for believing in Christ.

Fortunately, after that misstep, @T_aquaticus lived up to his self-description as “a friendly atheist” and clarified his opinion, which made me feel better. Thus he seemed to understand my meaning. Thank you @T_aquaticus :slightly_smiling_face:

My understanding is that part of the mission of this forum is to help people like us, who have different opinions understand each other. So we made one step forward here today.

But this is also an unfair characterization and use of statistics to condemn people who have faith. I agree that there are issues with how certain people handle facts. And many non-Christians also believe conspiracy theories or are in the anti-vax camp, etc. So you can’t pin all crazy ideas on Christians.

Yes, that is my experience among the Christians I know: lots of eye rolls. And in the Christian media that I read, I see cases where journalists and pastors call out particular policies that they like from this administration, while also sternly criticizing other policies and stances that he takes. I know very few people who offer full-throated support of all that craziness. Among conservatives that fully support this administration, many are not Christian. So it really is not fair to conflate Christianity with anti-reasoned stances that the president takes.

I would say that all people take nuanced views on various topics that they think about, whether it be religion or politics. So I think the best way to have a friendly dialogue on this forum is for us to try to avoid over-generalizing, and rather have a conversation with the person and idea at hand.

No, I do not embrace those “facts” in the way that you state them. Instead, I am working to combat views within some churches and Christian organizations that can be anti-science. One example here:

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Yes, these are two examples where one person made a bold claim that was personal to themselves and not verifiable.

Joseph Smith also had to give back those golden plates, so he was the only one who “saw” them and was told to translate them. That is highly suspect, and makes me doubt Joseph Smith’s story.

In contrast, the evidence that Loke has been laying out for the resurrection involves multiple people with shared experiences with a real person who lived and died. Those experiences were written down in documents by direct eye witnesses and personal acquaintances of Jesus, and we can still find historical copies of those documents today.

Well, although the US is culturally Christian, I was raised by an atheist and an agnostic, not attending any Church in New England, where most of my friends were raised by families similar to mine, or had a nominal (celebrate the holidays only) kind of relationship with Christianity. The first time I met a person with strong convictions to their faith was when I was studying abroad in Germany, a place where faith is also generally, nominal.

So to answer your hypothetical question, I believe that God would have found me and convinced me of His existence in whatever location He would have placed me, as he has done for others raised in different cultural contexts. For example, the testimonies of:

Ravi Zacharias “Walking from East to West
Bilquis Sheikh “I Dared to Call Him Father
and there are numerous other examples.
The truth of the Gospel has a great power to break through cultures.

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And yet millions upon millions of people do believe them.

OK, that’s your opinion and it’s a reasonable one. But, like I said, millions of people do not doubt the story. So all that tells us is that people will ofteb believe bold, even outlandish, claims without good reason or evidence. I would go so far as to suggest that this is particular the casen when religious claims are involved, though this is not the only area where this occurs.

No, that is incorrect. What we have are documents written by people who believed that Jesus was raised from the dead. Now, re-read what I just wrote above on the topic of people believing things without good reason. We do not know upon what evidence the early Christians based their beliefs and there is no good reason to contend it was any stronger than that for the claims of Muhammad or Joseph Smith.

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Thanks for surfacing this. An example I have observed with a specific Atheist, Richard Dawkins, is his faith in the simple to complex model. Richard is clearly uncomfortable with organized religion and emotionally wants to be freed from the burden of God. In his interview with Ben Stein he argues for the tyranny of God and the simple to complex model to support his world view.

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Yes. That reason is the total absence of good evidence. The same reason why claims that haven’t met their burden of proof, aren’t automatically accepted when first heard. The time to accept a proposition as (likely) true is when you’ve encountered rationally compelling evidence for it. Since I have not encountered that, I have exactly the reason one would need for lacking belief: Lack of rationally compelling evidence.

No. It’s possible to be undecided on such questions. Why is there something rather than nothing? I have no clue. As best I can tell, no one does. You’re not obliged to just take some position on faith. The fact of me being ignorant of any purported reason for why the universe exists is not a good reason to just take some particular position on faith.

I understand that to some people it can be disconcerting to live with not knowing and uncertainty, and to be sure I am curious, and I would like to know what that reason is, should there be one. Reality is in many ways a big mystery. Does that mean I should just decide to believe some particular candidate explanation even without good evidence just to satisfy my desire to have an answer? No, I don’t think so. So I refrain from making a judgement call since the evidence I have just isn’t good enough to accept, as most likely true, any of the proposals I have heard.

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Yes, that is true, people believe all kinds of things for all different reasons, such as culture. However, that does not mean that all beliefs are wrong. It’s our challenge to figure out which beliefs are right.

In this case are your including the possibility of an intelligent creator behind the universe? Your position appears to be agnostic.

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