How to Convince A Skeptic That God Exists

I like to discuss science, God and the Bible online with self-professed atheists and skeptics. One of them (screen name “Notta_Skeptic” … but she is really) has been heckling me for a very long time now. She is an award winning science teacher and would describe herself as a former Christian.

I recently asked her what it would take to convince her that God exists. “What would you do if you were God,” I asked, “to convince people that you exist?”

She gave a surprising answer. She said …

Well, I think appearing in person would be a great place to start. Why not just show up in neo-natal intensive care units, lay hands on all the babies there, and miraculously cure them? Sure would go a long way towards convincing people that he/she/it/they actually cared about human beings, by showing compassion to the littlest and most vulnerable ones.
http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showthread.php?p=4784991#post4784991

!!!!!! What ?????!!!!! Does this throw any switches in anyone else’s brains besides mine?

Appear in person? That’s exactly what God did. Miraculously cure babies? Close. He healed lots of people. And He walked on water. And He fed the five thousand miraculously. And He raised the dead. And he fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies. And He himself was raised from the dead. And and and … !!!! Did most people believe in Him after going to all this effort? ……….. NO.

And the important question …

Does Notta_Skeptic believe in Him considering all this? Considering that God has already done almost exactly what she herself said would be convincing proof that He exists?

Only Notta can answer that one.

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10 Responses to “How to Convince A Skeptic That God Exists”

  1. mickeybitsko Says:

    How do you know what god did or didn’t do? Were you there?

  2. That’s not a good argument as it requires you to actually believe in god/jesus already. You can’t just expect sceptical people to accept your word for it and say “Well God did this already, so there!”. It won’t convince anyone.

    you yourself are probably sceptic to many a religion. And you won’t accept their take on the world if they just TOLD you it was true (or showed you their holy book for that matter, even if it was hundreds or thousands years old). See?

    Sincerely

    Trond

  3. Afdave, I think you are a very nice person and judging from the pictures of your family and your own you are someone I could probably like a lot as a friend (plus, being a big aviation buff I have to like your former profession. Where I to do it all over again yours would have been my second choice career – first choice? Navy pilot. Sorry 🙂

    I also think you are sincere I have an inkling that aside form our religious beliefs (or lack thereof) we have a lot in common as far as our own individual morals and lifestyles.

    Let me tell you why I am an agnostic/atheist. I was born catholic (born, raised and baptized in Rome, Italy – San Peter basilica, no less).

    Since as far as I can remember, I have never believed in God. Not in a rational sense, since my first awareness of my non-belief in God dates about to the time I was 5 or 6, but in the sense that many believers believe in God. As you felt strongly his presence in your life, I felt the exact opposite.
    I studied religion(s) throughout middle and High school searching for the reason I felt this absence of God in my life. Even in the mostly Godless city of Rome (check church attendance there) non believers in something god-like are somewhat considered loonies and even card carrying communist parents baptize their kids more often than not due, I believe, to social pressure mostly, but nevertheless they do.

    Over the years, I was able to develop my own ideas about the non-existence of God, mostly by the pretty trite but logical reasoning that all religions cannot possible be true at the same time and given that all their gods are often very different from one another how can a reasonable person follow a specific religion and think that everyone else is destined to damnation (or at least a pretty uncomfortable eternity) for believing another brand of supernaturalism.

    But the central reason for my un-belief was and remains what I feel in my hearth. I believe I can call it “faith”. Faith that there is no big guy in the sky and that if there is an entity that may resemble our idea of a god, it certainly is nothing like the judeo-Christian God of the bible.

    Yet, whenever I express this belief in polite society, the reaction is usually one of dismissal of my belief, of my faith really (and don’t tell me that faith in nothing is nothing. Many times I compared the way my “faith” feels to me to the description of faith from religious people and, point by point, it has to be defined as such.)as well as a good amount of ridicule and disbelief.

    Now, this dismissal in itself is a source of frustration for me and attacks to my own “faith”, which essentially is part of who I am, stings as badly as an attack to yours must. It feels not that they are attacking my opinions, but rather my very life and existence. If I were one of the 9/11 suicide bombers, I believe I would at least get some respect for my convictions. No one would dare attack my god or my religion, no matter how perversely I had interpreted it (and this moral “immunity” of one’s faith is another mystery to me – why is faith such a taboo that people treat it as being above criticism is beyond me) but when my faith involves a refutation of any God, then most feel it’s fair game to discount it.

    But I realize, I have been digressing from the central point of your discussion. What would God have to do to “prove” to me He exists?

    Well, for starters, he could enter my life in such a way that I can push aside my current “faith”. It would not be absolute objective proof, but it certainly would be a step in the right direction and would be proof enough to me.

    See, the problem here is that I live my life very closely to what the best parts of the Christian Bible say I should live it like. In fact, my experience has been that whenever I had business or personal interaction with religious people, and especially the “Born Again” variety, my morals and actions on various topics and practical matters would have been recognized as vastly superior to theirs from a Christian standpoint.

    I might have been particularly unlucky in my choices of business associates, but in many partnerships and business arrangements I have been part of over the years, whenever my partner was a very devout religious person I ended up either having to put my foot down to stop them from swindling or otherwise cheat clients, customers and various private a public organizations (IRS, insurance companies, etc) or I had to dissolve the relationship because I loathe taking advantage of others or conduct my business (and life) in an unethical or dishonest manner.
    The most glaring episodes involved 2 Born Again Christians and a Mormon ex-partner.

    And I am not talking about merely unethical practices, although there were plenty of those. In some cases I am talking about felonies and swindles that carry hefty penalties both legally and spiritually (according to their own beliefs).

    Part of it I believe has to do with the concept of “forgiveness”. In my world, if I do something immoral or unethical I have to take it with me to the grave. I am the one laying awake at night with remorse and shame and no one is going to erase my actions from my conscience.
    My religious “friends” on the other hand, have a built in escape hatch. No matter what they do, they remain confident in their god’s infinite forgiveness.

    Just the other day, in talking with the secretary of one such person, a very religious woman in her own right and one that practices what she preaches, she was the one bringing up the fact that when I worked with her boss I was the one upholding the very values her boss claimed to believe in but failed to practice.

    If he had been a unique event in my life, I could have easily discounted as being an aberration. But I could recount many such examples, not to mention what I read and hear in the various media outlets.

    So, to once again try to address your initial question, what God could do to prove to me he exists is to show me in a tangible way that he won’t accept his followers dishonesty and hypocrisy by at least foiling their plans and make them pay for their misdeeds. Sadly, I have to report that, at least in their cases, crime does pay and they continue to take advantage of the gullible, the honest and anyone else that places their trust in them.

    A punishment in the afterlife, I am afraid, won’t quite do it for me as proof.

    As far as God having proven his existence by the examples you bring forth (healing, walking on weather, etc.) I could bring you countless examples of people having done the very same thing and never claiming to be God. Magicians routinely perform “miracles” such as the ones you describe, but they are hardly doing it in His name.
    The healing of children you talk about, is certainly not “proof” by any standards. When I recently underwent and organ transplant, I was near the children’s cancer ward at the hospital and I got to know scores of innocent kids, almost everyone of them near death or dying, that could certainly use an encore of his miracle of healing. And don’t talk to me about “His plan” or the fact that he “works in mysterious ways”.
    These are innocents children as deserving of life as the ones you claim he “cured”.

    Contrary to what you and others may believe of Atheists and agnostics (which by the way does NOT mean someone that believes in God but has not made up his mind just on which one), I would be thrilled if the doors of the supernatural would open for me and everyone else to see. Just as I would love to know there is an afterlife and that one day I may be reunited with my dead father and my grandparents.

    And I think that if such a thing exists, I may not be such a bad candidate for it after all. What do you think?

    Thank you for letting me vent on your forum. You and I could not disagree more on certain scientific issues and other minor ones, but I have a feeling that otherwise we are not such opposites. You feel His presence in your life, I feel the opposite, but we both are trying to make this a better place for everyone. How different are we really?

  4. You are right. We are similar in many important ways. Unfortunately, religious people are sometimes very immoral, but this is not God’s fault, it is the person’s fault. And it is not a disproof of the existence of God. I feel the proof for God’s existence comes from the “Book” of Nature and the Book of Scripture … the Bible, and I feel this proof is very strong. Read through my “Creator God Hypothesis” and see what you think.

    The previous commenter said that God showing up in a human body is not a convincing proof of his existence. Maybe not for you, but the point of this post is that this was supposedly a convincing proof to “Notta Skeptic.” I don’t think she thought this through well before posting — think about it … if she was walking around Israel in the time of Jesus, would she have believed he was really God? Probably not, judging from the majority that rejected Him. So the truth is that this “proof” is NOT convincing to her, although it and other things God has done should have been … she just posted unthinkingly and said it was.

  5. Please remember that I’m not against Christianity or reglion in general (although I must admit sometimes I am, because religious conflicts are, obviously, the root cause of much evil in our world).

    Religion involving any chosen deity on the right side of morality, will have positive emotional impact on our lives.. Any postive belief system which parallels our intrinsic sense of right and wrong, will result in positive emotional (and physical) impact.

    Fear of social and divine retribution, as well as the self-imposed retribution of guilt (sometimes to a suicidal degree) can be and is, for many people an overwhelming deterrent to thorough investigation and objective evaluation of the Scriptures. Religion is handed down to us throughout the generations. Predisposition to blind acceptance of Christianity and other religions is in our genes. It’s instillled in our psyche from an early age.

    This is the same fundamental reason Muslim extremists adhere to an inhumane doctrine of terrorism and torture. It’s been handed down, to them, across the generations since the 7th Century inception of Islam, when Muhammad went to the Mountain, smoked a little grass, then decided he was going to be Allah’s right-hand man. It’s what has been taught to them, and this is germane to understanding why so many in our society accept Christianity without objective scrutiny (it’s what has been handed down to us, and unquestioning acceptance, of it, is the right thing to do).

    I’m not arguing against the virtuous teachings of Christianity; just its false premise (the Bible’s divine origin).

    When I was finally compelled to investigate the existence of God, I began with an online resource, an electronic version of the Bible. I searched for the word *kill*. Don’t remember how many there were, but only one instance used in the context of advocacy would have been too much, for me (Thou shalt not kill?). Not what I had been led to believe God was all about. A rather telling observation, in my book, is that killing in biblical times was not exactly atypical as the way of their relatively lawless world, and this is exactly the kind of thing that would be found in writings of that era.

    God, in my opinion (and according to the Bible, itself), is supposed to be perfect in every way, in addition to other concepts presented, like omnipotent, omniscious, etc., not an advocate of war and/or murder. How could He advocate killing any of his children, whether they’re his chosen people, or not. Chosen people? A god playing favorites? Not what I had been led to believe God was all about.

    Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.
    Exodus 32:27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour (this is only one of the contradictions found in the Bible, but one of the more significant and telling, me thinks).

    I just always figured this book was the word of an omnibenevolent, supernatural being. Now, and only after cursory examination, it’s apparent to me that this book was written by someone(s) with all the same personality characteristics (jealousy, rage, etc.) of an earthbound mortal (the evidence is in the Bible), not an omnibenevolent superpower. Truth is, Jehovah shares personality traits with some of our world’s worst war-mongering, murderous, and barbaric dictators of totalitarian regimes, including Muhammad (the evidence is in the Bible…and the Qur’an).

    Ever notice how demanding of worship Jehovah is?
    Ever notice how demanding of worship third world dictators are, with their pictures on billboards all over town?

    Aside from the virtuous teachings, what makes Jehovah any different from a terrorist? Both are apparently egomaniacs who go around killing at will (even their methods are essentially not all that different – the evidence is in the Bible), and the supernatural one of that pair demands, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’.

    As big a worship-demanding ego as God apparently has, seems pretty clear to me if anyone like Muhammad was attempting encroachment/trespass into Jehovah’s turf (which Muhammad did in more ways than one), Jehovah would’ve snuffed this imposter out in a heartbeat. Support for this kind of postulation is found in the Scriptures and is not merely a product of my bias.

    So I think to myself, how am I expected to believe in such a god who is not so perfect and god-like by my standards, but more to the point about my contention with the divine status of the Bible, how am I supposed to believe in (much less worship) a god who is not so perfect and god-like, as claimed in the book itself. Anyone’s answer to that question first requires disregard for the above-mentioned contradictions (and others found in the Scriptures), but is also dependent on their own definition of that man-made word “God”, and just as important, how they justify to themselves, that definition. Mitigation is especially needed if you allow Him any imperfections, and if you do allow Him imperfections, then you’re in direct contradiction with the Bible’s own portrayal of God being perfect in every way.

    As worship-demanding as God is protrayed, why the faith game instead of just presenting the rules and consequences, accompanied by a convincing display of His existence? (would result in a much higher incidence of winners, for the “game”). Assuming that any type of game would be an appropriate method for God to enlist followers, wouldn’t an omnibenevolent god want to maximize the number of winners, and minimize the number of losers who will spend eternity in Hell? “Hell” – sure seems, to me, a rather cruel punishment for an omnibenevolent god. Me thinks if I were an omnibenevolent superpower capable of engineering such a complex world as ours, I could surely devise a plan guaranteeing myself plenty of worship, without simultaneously condemning any of my children to eternity in Hell. On the other hand, if I were a mere mortal of the biblical era, and recognized the need for spiritual law & order in an, otherwise, spiritually lawless and chaotic society, a Heaven or Hell concept would be a convenient and powerful incentive, indeed.

    To me, it couldn’t be any more obvious that these books (Qur’an and the Bible) were written by mere mortals without any external, divine influence guiding their hands. In the case of Muhammad, his wife made the rather telling observation of how convenient his (Muhammad’s) revelations always were to his own religious and personal goals. In the case of the Bible, there was apparently a similar motive at work by at least one of the biblical authors, which resulted in a “chosen people.” In other words, what mere mortal-type biblical author would not have selected his own kind as the “chosen people?” What god would direct members of his flock to murder other apparently not-so-favorite members of his flock? Not exacty an equitable and omnibenevolent god, in my book.

    The positive value of Christianity in our lives and society is obvious, but the Bible as being the work of God, as God is represented in the book itself, just doesn’t hold up to objective scrutiny. There are also publications out there (at least one that I know of, authored by research partners “Freke & Gandy”), that reveal discovery of credible information (referenced with appropriate bibliography), relating the existence of a historical, spiritual figure whose story roughly parallels and predates the story of Jesus. The story of Jesus plagiarzed? This kind of stuff the press doesn’t dare touch for obvious reasons, and many Christians won’t entertain even only the possibility of such blasphemous tales, but will dogmatically deny pure logic and evidence, rather than risk that kind of upset in their lives, especially for those so entrenched in the lifestyle. Fear of social stigma and/or divine retribution, as mentioned previously, can also be an overwhelming factor, of course.

    Okay, at the risk of sounding a bit trite, the question I have for you is how do you answer what must surely be a familiar question: Why does God permit the destruction of life, limb, and landscape with weather calamities, when according to the Bible, He has the power to stop them? (not to mention the suffering of victims’ loved ones for the remainder of their lives).

    Please leave your answer at: http://whengoodmendonothing.wordpress.com

  6. The problem with your argument about people not believing in Jesus when He was supposed to be walking around is that it’s not true. I was in a Catholic School for nine years, and I remember the stories quite well. Jesus always drew HUGE crowds. He was not ignored or disbelieved; he had quite the opposite problem.

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  9. Hey justplumducky,

    Great post. Let me try to answer some of your well-put questions/points (which I rephrased for simplicity’s sake)–

    1) 1) Any religion is valuable because they tend to adhere to a positive belief system, thus benefitting people who believe in said religion.

    Not so. Look at Islam. The ‘fruits’ of Islam are suicide bombers, dictatorial regimes etc. Look at Judaism. Judaism is a religion of denial and saving face after its leaders effectively killed Jesus. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion that only a small fraction of the world’s population believe in and that has no good ‘fruits’ whatsoever. The Same with Buddhism and other New Age fads. The fact of the matter is, Christianity is the only religion that people actively convert to and as a result of having converted, have stories and testimonies to then tell others. These people then feel the intense desire to share that knowledge with the world. No other religion desires to spread the Gospel in this way, other than Christianity. Islam doesn’t count because they just want to kill and murder people.

    2) Religious conflicts are the root cause of much destruction and evil throughout the world.

    This is like the argument, guns kill people. No, people kill people. People are evil and sinful by nature. Yes, including me. But aside from that, there’s really only one belligerent, violent religion and that’s Islam. I don’t mean to bash Islam and I don’t desire that Islamic nations, ‘vanish from the pages of time’ to quote someone you might know, but I happen to believe that Islam was inspired by a demon. If you read about when the prophet Mohammed first began to communicate with what he thought was the Holy Spirit, he describes being frightened and intimidated in a negative way. This is not how the Holy Spirit operates. Anything that inspires fear is not of God.

    3) Religion serves the purpose of keeping society in order by creating fear for social or divine retribution.

    Christianity does, maybe Judaism, but that’s about it. Other religions don’t go into detail about how one should live. If you want to live by the Golden Rule, but not attribute it to God, then you’re not realizing where the Golden Rule came from. Also, the Golden Rule, when not grounded in the Bible, can get fuzzy because how can you know how to treat someone else, if you have a very subjective view of how you should live your life (I’m not saying you, but most people).

    4) The Bible is just a historical document and has no divine origin.

    That’s nice that you went on to a website that confirmed what you already seemed to believe, but if you actually open your mind, instead of pretending to open your mind, and read the Gospel yourself, instead of reading some not-so-smart guy’s interpretation of it, then you may change your opinion on this. My challenge to you is to read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with an open mind, and really ask yourself if you believe that Jesus was just some guy who lived a long time ago and not the son of God. You don’t know what you don’t know, my friend.

    5) If God is so good, why would he allow so much evil and suffering in the world?

    Great question, maybe your best question. This is the singular question that I believe leads people away from God the most. My answer (and I don’t profess to be a pastor, or expert on the matter, just a Christian), is free will. God gave us free will. And to put it simply, we reap what we sow. Hurricanes and earthquakes are really forms of God’s judgement. Wars and turmoil are also forms of God’s judgement on people. Why do you think Haiti was devastated? Because Haitians were notoriously into the occult and Voodoo. Why is America going down the tube? Because we’ve fallen away from God and our God-given right to be free and have accepted further and further encroachments on our liberty under the guise of security. We’ve fallen away from our first principles. People bring calamity down on their own heads by their own actions. God doesn’t protect us from this. Small children can seem like casualties in cases of domestic violence and such, and unfortunately, they are, but it’s not because of Him, it’s because of the actions of people.

    6) Does God favor his ‘chosen people’ and if so, why does he play favorites?

    No, God doesn’t play favorites, but He blesses those who love and represent Him in their actions/lives. The Jewish people were the first people on earth who did this, so in a sense they were His ‘chosen people.’ This doesn’t mean that other people are heathen trash, but just that Jews were His first. I believe that now, anyone who represents God can be ‘chosen.’ Jews were also ‘chosen’ because it was the Semitic line (from Shem, one of Noah’s three sons’) that Jesus descended from.

    7) Why is there contradictory information found in the Bible?

    Why are you reading the Bible like a lawyer? The Bible is a series of stories with emotional content. Just because you find two seemingly disparate notions in the Bible doesn’t mean that they contradict each other. This isn’t logic (this, therefore that).

    8) Why does God become angered and why is he so demanding of worship?

    God is demanding of worship because he is the Creator of the Universe, bro. Everything we have comes from Him. If we don’t realize that and thank and worship Him for His grace and goodness to us, we’re nothing more than sniveling little ingrates.

    9) Why didn’t God just make himself known as well as the rules and consequences of his laws, instead of playing the “faith game”?

    Once again, it has to do with free will, but also because He is the Creator of the Universe and can do whatever he wants, regardless of whether you think it’s fair or not, and besides God loves us and believes we can overcome incredible trials, not matter how difficult they may seem.

    10) Isn’t the story of Jesus just a plagiarized version of other creation myths promulgated throughout history?

    What did you watch Zeitgeist and now you think you’re smarter than everyone. Let me tell you something. Zeitgeist is nothing more than a well-crafted propaganda piece to lead people away from Christ. Don’t ask me how I know this, but there is no sense of time in the realm of eternity, where angels, demons and God exist. Demons have been trying to lead humankind away from Christ from thousands of years and they knew how Christ would appear, so they mimicked it by inspiring lots of pagan myths throughout history regarding Egyptian, Macedonian, and even Greek and Roman Gods. The fact that none of these other pagan religions stood the test of time is evidence enough that they were completely bogus. Look at the effect of Christianity on the world and how powerful it has been and compare that to the Egyptian creation myth. I don’t know anyone who believes in Horus, do you?

    11) Blind acceptance of religion is handed down through the generations and is a heritable genetic trait.

    What are you talking about? Don’t you know how many people have been saved who’ve lived a horrible, sinful life, raised by alcoholic parents and hooked on crack, who suddenly find Jesus and make a complete turnaround? Do you think this a coincidence? In the cases of these people, there was nothing ‘genetic’ in their belief in Jesus.

    If you’re still skeptical, I would go to youtube.com and watch the hundreds of testimonials of people who’ve found Jesus and then ask yourself if you still think all of it is fake.

    I’m sorry if I was abrasive in my answers, but I love you and want you to find the truth.

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