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ETpro's avatar

What would you need as an answer when you ask, "Is that you, God?"?

Asked by ETpro (34145 points ) February 24th, 2013

What sort of an answer would convince you that it was the one true God? Clearly, there have been people who claimed, in apparent earnestness, to have experienced a life-changing epiphany, but were wrong. Let’s face it; Paul née Saul of Tarsus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Jim Jones, and David Koresh all claimed to have had a life-changing epiphany revealing their special relationship to God or Jesus. No more than one of them could be right, because the messages “God” or His alter-ego “Jesus” transmitted to each were so wildly different and in direct conflict with one another. In fact, there have been 32 people over the last few centuries who claimed to actually be Jesus, The Christ or The Promised One.

Perhaps some were simple charlatans advancing such claims solely for financial gain. Founding a new branch of religion can be extremely profitable. Ask the billionaire “living God”, Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Well, too late on that. Moon is now the formerly living. Apparently even God the omnipotent has no control of life and death if we’re to believe Moon’s claims, which most Moonies still do.

But a number of these claimants died defending their claim. One has to think they were honestly convinced they were God incarnate, and would live eternally after taking themselves and their followers out. In other words, before anyone else, Jim Jones drank the Kool-Aid. This tells us that epiphanies, while possibly real encounters with the one true God, can also be brain farts not worth the neurons they are printed from in controlling the vast Universe and negating cause and effect.

So what would it take, if you suddenly heard some deep, booming voice ringing out and saw the beam of light bathing you in warmth and love, to be sure you were really hearing from God and not just an hallucination or even some visiting Alien teenage jokester having a little fun at your expense.

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39 Answers

Sunny2's avatar

No. It’s me, George, your electrician,

gailcalled's avatar

“No, it’s me, Margaret.”

wundayatta's avatar

Insanity. I would have to be insane to truly believe it. I mean really, really, really insane. Not just garden variety mental illness like I currently experience.

tom_g's avatar

I don’t know what it would take, to be honest. But that’s not the point. An omnipotent, omniscient deity would know what it would take for me to believe. Since it has not figured this out, I’m left with…
– a god exists, but it is incapable of determining what it would take for me to believe.
– a god exists, but it is not interested in me believing in it
– a god does not exist

Earthgirl's avatar

@tom_g As an agnostic I would go with your last 2 choices.

SamandMax's avatar

I wouldn’t need an answer. Mostly because I wouldn’t ask the question in the first place.
And @Earthgirl your answer is flawed. “A God does not exist” would make you an atheist. So surely you mean the first two choices?

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled got there first! Now I don’t have to believe in G-d!

Earthgirl's avatar

@SamandMax When I said I would go with the last 2 choices, I meant as possibilities, not as beliefs of my own. I don’t think the 1st choice makes sense, because any God worth his salt would know how to prove his existence, so then it makes more sense that he/she could but chooses not to. at least not to do it directly and with infallible certainty of proof. That is why I eliminated choice one. It’s not logical to me.

glacial's avatar

Would anyone who would ask this question in seriousness actually reject any answer? Just asking the question requires the suspension of disbelief.

hearkat's avatar

Wasn’t there recently a popular book called “Conversation with God” or something, and it was so popular there was a sequel?

SamandMax's avatar

@Earthgirl A little clarity in the initial answer might have helped my slow brain to consider that in the first place. Sorry.

BBawlight's avatar

Hard evidence.
I’d have to see “Him” in the flesh before I’d be even remotely convinced that a god exists.
I don’t feel any supernatural eyes on me. And the idea of God is such a perplexing topic because a creator has to have a creator who has to also have a creator and so on…
It just doesn’t make any sense.
If there really is a god, then when did He come into existence? Who created Him? Who created his creator?
This whole “religion” topic is not something I like to think about too much because it drives me in circles. So hard evidence is what I’d need. Like a court case, you can’t just move on barely developed ideas.

rebbel's avatar

Doesn’t “Is that you, God?” already imply that the person asking this is a believer to begin with?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Provable, repeatable, verifiable actions.

ucme's avatar

“My mighty penis spurts forth biblical bolts of lightning, that makes mere mortals tremble neath my sainted feet!
Either that or you have a pretty severe urine infection & are pissing razor blades…oh fake one.

ragingloli's avatar

Because these effects can be achieved by any sufficiently advanced, naturally evolved alien race, there is nothing that can be done to 100% convince me that the source is not just an alien trying mess with me.

flutherother's avatar

Asking this question might indicate mild insanity and so I wouldn’t ask in the first place.

Earthgirl's avatar

@SamandMax you’re right, I wasn’t very clear. No need to apologize. :)
It was sort of a hurried answer in which I lazily tagged onto @tom_g ‘s answer. I didn’t have time to elaborate…..not even sure I should call myself an agnostic…maybe a sceptic would be a better word, but then, is there much of a difference really?

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

If I heard a deep, booming voice ringing out and felt a beam of light bathing me in warmth and love I would wonder if I was in the operating room having an out of body experience due to a near death experience.

ETpro's avatar

@Sunny2 & @gailcalled Will you guys quit playing with the stage lights and sound system?

@wundayatta Why would you say that? Doesn’t it take the same sort of faith (belief in the absence of evidence) to declare no God exists as it takes to declare there definitely is a God?

@tom_g Any god that failed to meet the criteria of your first test would not, in my understanding, rate being defined as a god. Perhaps it would just be an incredibly advanced being, taking advantage of Arthur C. Clarke’s law, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” So just like
@Earthgirl I’m left with one of the last two possibilities.

@Earthgirl Classify yourself as you wish, but I can tell you that even self-declared atheists like Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Philip Roth don’t declare that they absolutely know there is no God. They simply weigh the evidence and find it as lacking as that for other beliefs that can’t be disproven, such as believing in fairies, pink unicorns, Santa Claus and flying reindeer. An agnostic is a pure fence straddler, who asserts that the existence or absence of a personal god who is influenced by prayer is about 50/50.

@SamandMax Didn’t possibility 2 allow for the existence of a God. It only called into question the nature of that deity’s powers. There are actually a tiny handful of atheists who claim to be certain God does not exist. Such a proof is beyond the reach of science, and so is entirely an article of faith which skeptics reject.

@glacial I disagree. I think that @tom_g‘s assertion is completely logical. “An omnipotent, omniscient deity would know what it would take for me to believe.” So if I ask, I expect an answer so power and profound that all doubt is removed. Anything less is meaningless.

@hearkat Even though P.T. Barnum probably didn’t say it, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. Actually, there are 255 babies born every minute now, and most will grow up to be suckers for religious nonsense. Few will learn critical thinking skills.

@BBawlight The jokester space alien mentioned in the OP could present you with hard evidence.

@rebbel Certainly not, as my reply above to @glacial indicates.

@elbanditoroso Yes, and answers that predict future events would weigh strongly.

@ucme Thor could do that, and look at where it got him. Any God worthy of worship ought to be at least powerful enough to keep itself relevant over time.

@ragingloli True omnipotence goes beyond anything technology can deliver.

@flutherother Would you really be willing to potentially bypass the knowledge of the Creator just to preserve appearances among men?

@nofurbelowsbatgirl That might be a pretty good bet.

bookish1's avatar

“Yes, George. Now, go forth and liberate the Iraqians.”

ragingloli's avatar

@ETpro “True omnipotence goes beyond anything technology can deliver.”
Several things:
1. How do you know?
2. Why do you assume that God is omnipotent?
3. How do you judge something to be omnipotent? How could you possibly tell the difference between omnipotence and technology that massively exceeds your understanding?

wundayatta's avatar

@ETpro To believe there is scientific evidence where there is none would be insanity.

tom_g's avatar

@ragingloli and @ETpro – My point was almost describing a tautology. I would be convinced if I was convinced. In other words, if a being was able to determine what it would be that would convince me, then I would be convinced.

The reason I don’t have an answer of what that might be is that I can’t imagine what could possibly convince me. We know too much about the human brain and delusions at this point. So, while I can’t point out something specific that would convince me, I’ll entertain the idea that a deity capable of creating a universe would be able to figure out what exactly would convince me, and say/do that thing.

ETpro's avatar

@bookish1 Ha!

@ragingloli Because omnipotence, by it’s definition, means the ability to do ANYTHING. Technology can only confer the ability to do what is possible within the laws governing the Universe. True omnipotence would not be so bound.

I don’t assume God is omnipotent. Mankind has made that assertion for all the ones currently worth considering. So to accept any of that crowd, I’d expect the deity to be able to live up to its hype.

@wundayatta I made no mention of believing there is scientific evidence of God’s existence. I am an atheist. What I am saying is that science is not equipped to prove a negative. We can definitively state via science how this or that works. We can’t use science, though, to definitively prove there is no God, or the dualism is a hoax. All we can say is that as of today, we lack scientific evidence to establish the existence of God or a human spirit separate from the flesh and eternal in nature.

@tom_g Your first point is rather a tautology, but it’s a solid way of answering @ragingloli‘s last question above.

ragingloli's avatar

“Because omnipotence, by it’s definition, means the ability to do ANYTHING.”
That depends solely on what your definition of omnipotence is.
Omnipotence could mean “doing anything, even things that are logically contradictory”, like that create a rock so heavy you can not lift it.
Or Omnipotence could mean doing anything that is not logically contradictory.
Or it could mean; doing anything that the laws of physics permit.
Which of these definitions do you subscribe to?
Also, I am not convinced that technology is only relegated to the third definition.
For example, sufficiently advanced technology could cause an effect that changes its fundamental nature and makes it transcend the 4 dimensional universe, transubstantiates it into an object of the 11 dimensional hyperverse and thus absolves it from the laws of physics of our 4 dimensional universe.
After all, something similar is supposed to happen when you go to heaven, right?

KNOWITALL's avatar

I assume God would be able to tell me something no one else on earth knows about me or my life, or my belief system to PROVE His existence. Although with real believers, we really don’t require proof, it’s a faith-based religion.

wundayatta's avatar

@ETpro I think I see your confusion. You’re the one who raised the issue of proof of no God. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m saying that the only circumstances I can think of where I would believe there was scientific proof of God is if I was insane.

I.e. there could be no scientific proof of God if there is no God. Accepting proof of God where there is no proof is insanity.

SamandMax's avatar

“It’s YOU. Would you like a spliff?”

(No I don’t do drugs – I used to smoke weed when I was a teenager though)

BBawlight's avatar

@ETpro Good thing I don’t take advise from space aliens, or I’d be screwed!

ETpro's avatar

@ragingloli I let the dictionary define words for me. To run with one’s own pet definitions renders discussion with others meaningless. I won’t play Bill Clinton’s “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

I take your point on technology, though.

So your position seems that science cannot prove God doens’t exist, but it can’t prove he does, either. In fact, gravity and relativity may not exist either. They could just appear to exist because hyper advanced aliens are out in the 11th dimension playing with our heads. That leads to solipsism—which I cannot disprove, but find absolutely no value in embracing.

@KNOWITALL In hallucination, your own mind can tell you things about yourself that even your waking self no longer remembers, so that would be no proof at all.

@wundayatta I raised the issue of proof of no god because your first comment made it clear you felt no proof of Gods existence would be possible for you.

If you do accept science being able to prove other things exist, some of which you and I never see, why accepting would proof of God require that you be insane. Presumably, if I submitted myself to tests, science could provide you sufficient proof of my existence that you would accept that I exist without feeling the need to question your own sanity in doing do. If I can play devils God’s advocate for a moment, let’s assume for sake of argument that God does exist, and suddenly decides to prove that to the world’s scientists. Why should that be possible for me, but impossible for an Omnipotent being?

I am an atheist leaning strongly toward the likelihood that there is no God, at least in human religious conceptions of a god. But I am troubled by those who claim, without evidence to back it up, the absolute certainty of God’s nonexistence. I believe all we can say with certainty is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and to date, the extraordinary claim of God’s existence stands completely devoid of proof.

@SamandMax Maybe the Rastafarians were right, god is a spliff.

@BBawlight Oh, you haven’t been screwed by a space alien yet? My advice is accept the next offer.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@ETpro Why do I always feel like you pose questions asking for personal opinions then ‘grade’ us on our answers? You asked what would prove it to ME, and I replied. My answer stands, thank you.

wundayatta's avatar

@ETpro The definitions of just about all gods I’ve ever heard of simply do not fit in with all the rest of our knowledge of the universe. There is no room for a god or gods. So I think a god is exceedingly unlikely. SO much so, that finding evidence of one would probably mean I was insane.

Now, if there was a god that fit the existing rules of the universe, what would most likely be the case is that people change their definition of God in order to call something that makes sense a God, even if it doesn’t fit their other definitions from the past.

BBawlight's avatar

@ETpro No thank you. I like my innocence INTACT!

ragingloli's avatar

“I let the dictionary define words for me. To run with one’s own pet definitions renders discussion with others meaningless. I won’t play Bill Clinton’s “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
Limiting yourself to dictionary definitions will put you in a disadvantageous position in arguments in many fields, because the fields do not use the dictionary definitions which are in many cases incorrect and/or superficial, unclear, inaccurate.
Take the very link to your dictionary definition of omnipotent for example:
“1. almighty or infinite in power, as God.
2. having very great or unlimited authority or power.”
What does “infinite in power” and “unlimited power” mean?
Does it include situations that are logically contradictory?
Does it include situations that are physically impossible?
The dictionary definition of omnipotent is completely useless because it is too rubbery.
Another example is the dictionary’s definition of “theory”. In its attempt to formulate the scientific defintion of theory, it lists “law” as a synonym, which is flat out wrong. A law in the context of science is a principle describing an observation that is only valid under certain conditions and is part of and described by a theory

Also, the definition of omnipotence that excludes logically contradictory situations was drawn up by theists specifically to counter the “create a rock too heavy too lift” argument against omnipotence, so it is not “my pet definition”, and simply dismissing it with a “I only use dictionary definitions” handwave, is what makes discussions with others meaningless, because you end up arguing against different things.
You just have to accept that there are different definitions for words that lie outside a dictionary, which by the way is only a reference on how words are used, not how they are supposed to be used, and that there are different kinds of omnipotence, just as there are different kinds of infinity in mathematics.

BBawlight's avatar

@ragingloli Do you watch Numberphile, too? Or did you just know that?

ragingloli's avatar

There was a BBC documentary about that once, I think.

BBawlight's avatar

@ragingloli Oh. I never saw it, though. The infinity thing was something I watched on youtube

ETpro's avatar

@ragingloli Your story has touched my heart. You’re right about definitions. Thanks.

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