What evidence would you require to believe in a higher power?

It always has bewildered me being in a scientific field that there are so many religious scientists. I had one pose a question to me the other day, one that I honestly had never considered before.  I would like to pose it to the community and see others requirements.  

What evidence would make you change your mind and start believing in a higher power? My first response was obviously others must have had the same, simultaneous experience to ensure I was not in the middle of a stroke, hallucinating etc... Beyond this, what requirements should be have.

Naturally, I posed the question back to the religionist, and of course the answer was no evidence would convince them that their god was not real.

Views: 1266

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Suppose, like in the Christian end-times movies, the good Christians suddenly get raptured.  This can be verified, and you can tell which denominations God prefers*, and which are incorrect; and deduce what kinds of spiritual practices are pleasing to God. 

* Except that there's no way to tell what comes after Rapture.  The name could be deceptive.  Perhaps the Rapture is actually a food seasoning technique; the hormones released during the Christians' ecstatic elevation to a Higher Place, make them taste very good.  Perhaps they taste good to God, enlarging Heaven; perhaps to aliens waiting at a barbecue. 

If there is no evidence then your god is not real. This goes for any supreme being or advanced alien because we have no reasons or evidence for belief in either one of them.

For those who ask just what "god" we are talking about, let's keep in mind that such a being could NOT be coming from any of our scriptures or so called sacred writings. Since there is no evidence for god (or gods) we can rightly assume that we are not being shown how to live, we are not being protected, we are not being promised anything, and we have no contact whatsoever. This does away with the idea that "god", upon appearing, would have a lot to answer for. God, even if proven with solid and demonstrable evidence, would of had to set everything in motion and then just leave us to multiply like rabbitts in a cage called earth, not caring about us one way or the other.

This would be like a "deist view" of "god," but again there simply is no credible evidence. "What if's" do not even apply here.

There is no evidence you "could" provide that would prove their god was not real. That's like saying I'm going to hide a dime somewhere. I'm not going to tell you where it is. Your job is to prove there is no dime. No matter how many places you discount by looking, there will always be more places to look. You cannot prove a negative. I find the question you posed to your fellow scientist to be unreasonable. Not that what I'm saying proves there is a god.

I think the idea of scientifically verifying the existence/non-existence of god is a fools errand. This isn't some new species of toad in the Amazon we're talking about here. In our hubris, we seem to have our positions juxtaposed.

For me personally, it would be a subjective decision I would have to make. I would render a decision based upon the experience I have. Sure, I could be insane but that's just the cards we're dealt.

I realize this may sound foolish but this question has been posed within the movie "Oh God". In the end, we must each make our own determination as to what it is we experience in this life. If one of my fellow A/N members suddenly meets God, nothing I say or do is going to change how they feel about it. That's why I call myself an Agnostic Atheist. I cannot prove one way or the other but lacking evidence, I do not believe in god(s).  Both theism and hard Atheists make claims they cannot prove. Unfortunately, they both want answers "NOW!!!!!!!!". I am comfortable not having an answer I consider proven to that particular question and deal with it accordingly.

There is no evidence you "could" provide that would prove their god was not real.

You mistook the question.  The question is, "What evidence would prove that a 'higher power' DOES exist???"

Karl Popper maintained that the criterion of falsifiability separates science from pseudoscience. 

So the question to nonbelievers is, what would falsify your nonbelief?

For me personally, it would be a subjective decision I would have to make. I would render a decision based upon the experience I have. Sure, I could be insane but that's just the cards we're dealt.

I feel that way too. We were all born into this reality, and we came to believe things about how the world is by experience, as children. And now, if reality really did change around me in a way that implied the existence of Something More, and that survived skeptical questioning - by that same process I went through as a child, I would revise my ideas about how reality is.
The religious claim is that there is Something More that gives us the impression of agency - but it's beyond science to analyze.  If it could be analyzed by science, it would be part of the physical world.  This Something More would give the world an aspect of unpredictability. 

Such things could exist.  We don't have good evidence that they do exist.  But maybe advanced aliens with a billion years of technology and civilization, could be that Something More. 

So I don't see a way to differentiate the "advanced aliens" from God. 

I've made the playful argument for the existence of God to atheists, that the universe has been here for many billions of years - we are very unlikely to be the first civilization to come along, and the conditions for earthlike life have existed for billions of years, so there probably ARE civilizations billions of years old, around, and they might as well be Gods so far as we're concerned.  Perhaps indifferent or hostile Gods, but Gods all the same.

At least, if civilizations don't inevitably exterminate themselves by sophisticated warfare. 

Sorry Luara, I didn't organize my response to the OP as well as I could have. The first part of my response dealt with the final sentence, where the OP flipped the question back to the religionists. It made no sense to me to ask a theist what it would take to convince them of the existence of a deity. I assumed he had asked what it would take to convince them to disavow their belief in a deity. This was the opposite of what was discussed in the first two OP paragraphs. My mistake if I misunderstood.

The respect I am willing to give to an alien civilization, even if more advanced than ours, is a whole different discussion than the respect I would give to a deity responsible for the creation and possible continuation of everything that exists. Of course, no aspect of this should be off limits. I imagine it should be discussed the possibility a deity might exist with ethics/morals we are opposed to, sub-deities, good vs. evil, etc., etc., etc...

BTW, based upon this and other posts, I quite like your style of thinking.

The respect I am willing to give to an alien civilization, even if more advanced than ours, is a whole different discussion than the respect I would give to a deity responsible for the creation and possible continuation of everything that exists.

Perhaps with sufficiently advanced technology - a large enough particle accelerator for example :) an alien civilization could create a universe. And perhaps, observe the universe somehow or even influence it after it's born - we don't know what the physics of that alien universe would be.

BTW, based upon this and other posts, I quite like your style of thinking.

Thanks :)

In actuality, I do not think such an event could possibly happen to us.  As Atheists, we believe strongly that no such occurrence has ever manifested itself in the existence of humanity that would lead us to believe in a higher power.  As such, any bizarre occurrence that would enter into my own personal experience (encountering aliens, having Jesus himself break bread with me, etc) would simply be another event in the existence of humanity, but it certainly would not prove the relevance of religion.  I simply cannot fathom that such evidence could ever be presented to me, that hasn't be presented already, that would lead me to change my rightful belief in humanism.  Am I mistaken there?

By the way - my first of I hope many replies on Atheist Nexus - I am still getting used to the 'forum' idea - but am so glad to have found a global community of like minded and rational people.  It is a true pleasure to 'meet' each of you virtually.

Jason

 As Atheists, we believe strongly that no such occurrence has ever manifested itself in the existence of humanity that would lead us to believe in a higher power.

Atheism is defined in a variety of ways.  This site defines a nontheist as someone who doesn't have a belief in a deity.  What you are describing is a "strong atheist" position.

I've made the playful argument for the existence of God to atheists, that the universe has been here for many billions of years - we are very unlikely to be the first civilization to come along, and the conditions for earthlike life have existed for billions of years, so there probably ARE civilizations billions of years old, around, and they might as well be Gods so far as we're concerned.  Perhaps indifferent or hostile Gods, but Gods all the same.

At least, if civilizations don't inevitably exterminate themselves by sophisticated warfare.

Laura - I understand what you are saying here - but there is a clear delineation to be made between 'higher power' and the plural of God - 'gods'.  Ancient civilisations had many gods - nearly a god for anything under the sun.  Did this constitute that all gods were created equal?  Where they all a 'higher power'?  Quite possibly, but my study of religious history teaches otherwise.  The original issue in this thread had to do with a higher power.  That implies a singular 'God' (although I realise that could be open to interpretation).  When you start talking about gods that have existed throughout the years, you open yourself up to having to explain major and minor gods, their various functions, and who could become a god.  In modern day religion, for example, the Mormon faith teaches that followers can follow a path where they, themselves, will become a god.  Is that 'god' on the same level as the higher power that they worship here on earth?  Simply put - no - they are not - within the teaching of the Mormon church itself.  So, one would need to first provide evidence in such a higher power (which I don't believe exists) before one could put a secondary emphasis on the thousands of gods that have existed throughout the years. You are correct - gods have always and will always be present among us and throughout society - that does make them, however, 'real'.  Just my 'two cents' worth. 

You are correct - gods have always and will always be present among us and throughout society

That isn't what I said!

Believing in one Higher Power doesn't rule out that that Higher Power might be a combination of many agencies.  Even the Christian Trinity is like that. 

Actually the Trinity is specifically three-in-one.  The Holy Spirit, God, and Jesus are all the same.  They come in different forms, correct, but they are not 'gods'.  Not even close.  All three forms in the Trinity are indicative of one Higher Power - so in order to believe in either of those three means that you believe there is evidence in a higher power, which was actually my point.  Even in the Torah we have reflected hundreds of different 'gods', which evidently pissed God (the Higher power off), which resulted in a series of events that kicked off the New Testament.  So, I guess I fail to see how a discussion of 'gods' in whatever form they may come could point to a higher power.  The major monotheistic religions of the world all forbid this, in actuality, so if you could prove a high power exists, then the inference would be that all other 'gods' would be squashed, as this would mandated by God him or her self.  Anyway - this is a fascinating and stimulating discussion...

That is a quibble.  The question was "what would convince you to believe in a Higher Power?". 

Higher Power. That doesn't imply it's the only one.

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

MJ

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service