There are several thousand religions on the planet that all believe that their supernatural god is the one, true god and that their supernatural teachings are the one, true faith. So how do we as finite, fallible human beings choose which or any is correct?
Many Christians fail to see this point. They see only two options: Belief in the Christian god and belief in no god. If that were the case, I would hedge my bets and believe in the Christian god. But that does nothing for me regarding the Muslim god who says that if I do not believe and obey HIM I will burn in the Muslim Hell for all eternity, and the same for every other exclusivist religion on earth. It is impossible to hedge my bets and believe every supernatural, exclusivist belief system.
So how do I choose what is real and what is not? I choose to define reality by using the scientific method. If something can be tested and the result can be successfully reproduced every time we do the test, that, I believe, is as close to 100% certainty that we can ever get.
I do not deny the existence of a Creator. But since I cannot do experiments that prove that there is a Creator and that he/she/it is Yahweh, or Allah, or Krishna, or Zeus, or Jupiter, I choose to simply say: “I don’t know if there is a Creator God. I will believe it when there is evidence. However, I am not going to believe something by blind faith because faith without evidence is superstition, and nothing more.”
I am really still waiting for you to share with me what kind of evidence the Christian God would have to supply for you to be able to see it as evidence. Like say, maybe, that he would come and speak with us in words we can understand. Or that there would be historical records (writings) of that occurrence. Or records that he did things, without appearing, that only a god could do. Or whatever other types of evidence you might care to list. I’m interested. If your answer is in your last paragraph, I hope you see the category mistake. Are you saying you want to “run experiments” to prove God exists? What would those experiments even be? And don’t you see the further problems? What experiments would you run to prove beauty exists? Or love? Or meaning? Or significance? Or communication? And what about this…what experiments could you run to prove I exist? If I refuse to participate, none! A personal being can always refuse to cooperate. But even if I was forced to, or agreed to participate, your experiments could only prove the existence of my body, and some level of life function and responsiveness. I would question what sorts of experiments you could run that would prove the existence of what others mean when the say “Brian.” Could you prove your own consciousness to me? And really, could you really prove to a real Gary skeptic that you’re not just an illusion or a hoax? Your standard leaves these holes. I wrote these two blog posts on this subject: Here, and Here.
But the problems you express highlight exactly one of the lines of thinking I was pressing towards in my past email. Far from not seeing the point of how would humans know what religious system to choose, I make those issues the center point of my thinking when it comes to discussing these things. So few people are familiar with epistemological thinking that they don’t even know how they hamstring their own reasoning. “How could we know?” is exactly the question we need to ask. But you make a common error (one my entire undergraduate education was built on) when you assume the limits of our small minds are the limits of our knowledge. If they are, then of course you are correct. But they are not. In fact, at no point in reality, especially relationships with other people, are we limited to what our minds can figure out. How could I, with my small mind, have ever guessed at your existence, or whether you’d agree with my blog post or not. I don’t have a chance in a million. But if you email me and tell me some of your thoughts, I can know both that you exist, and a few things about you. Assuming you’re being honest, I now know you don’t really like my line of thinking in that one post. That wasn’t something I could figure out with my own head. I’m too small. But if you pierce my ignorance and tell me about yourself, then I can know some things about you.
This is all Christians claim about God. If he exists as the bible says he does, he is able to speak with us, and he is willing to speak with us, and he is able to communicate in a way we can understand, and he has, in fact, communicated this way. It is not an issue of what we’re able to figure out, it’s an issue of what God is able to communicate. In the matter of Islam, we are not talking about equals here, because Islam is built on the fatal error that it claims to be in full agreement with our scriptures, and yet our scriptures contradict it. That is how you can know Allah can’t throw you into hell. We have good epistemological grounds for thinking we can know it’s all false.
What evidence would I demand to believe in your god: the same evidence I would demand of every other supernatural claim.
Imagine that I came to you and claimed the following: Yesterday I visited Farmer Brown’s farm, and while out in a pasture, his dairy cow, Betsy, spoke to me in fluent French, telling me that she is the Creator of the World. She then levitated 20 feet off of the ground, and flew off at the speed of light into the sunset.
What evidence would you demand to believe this supernatural claim? I would bet the following:
1. You would not accept my word for it.
2. You would not accept my 12 close friends’ word for it.
3. You would not accept the word of 500 people.
4. You would demand to see the French-speaking, flying milk cow yourself or view video and audio of the event; audio and video that you could have examined by experts to make sure it had not been tampered with.
That is the level of evidence I would demand to believe that a first century man was reanimated with a superman like body after three days of being truly dead; that he then walked out his grave and ate a broiled fish lunch with his fishing buddies; that he then teleported between two cities (Emmaus and Jerusalem); that he could walk through walls and locked doors; and that 40 days later (or 8 days, depending on which version of the story you read), he teleported, in front of a crowd of followers, into outer space to never be seen again.
If I asked you to believe in a French-speaking, flying dairy cow as your Lord and Savior (by faith)you would say I am delusional. Well, my friend, please take a look at your own supernatural beliefs.